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Sport has the power to change the world. It is a powerful tool to strengthen social ties, promote sustainable development and peace. Sport fosters solidarity and respect for all and plays a very important role as a tool to promote gender equality and empower women and girls to achieve their full potential by breaking gender norms. UNFPA South Sudan is taking steps towards using sports as a tool for advocacy in promoting it’s mandate and to achieve, zero gender based violence and harmful practices such as child marriage. 

“Through sports I have been able to stay in school and get educated about harmful practices such as child marriage and unintended pregnancy” says Victoria Joy, a midfielder who plays for Gudele Central Womens football team. 


UNFPA South Sudan in collaboration with the Kulang Foundation, Afriyan, World Vision, Shabab Le Shabab and Zain organized a football tournament dubbed ‘unleashing girls’ potential to end child marriage’. Through the 3-week tournament that saw Crown FC lift the cup, girls were able to access menstrual hygiene products such as re-usable pads and get awareness on ending child marriage, curbing unintended pregnancies and ending gender-based violence.


“As the Minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare, women and girls are central to everything we do, because we are fully aware that when you educate a girl you educate a nation. As the tournament theme clearly states we must put an end to child marriage” said  Honorable Aya Benjamin Warille, Minister for Gender, Child and Social Welfare.

Hon Aya Benjamin Warille lauded the efforts of partners to curb the menace of child marriage and reaffirmed the government’s support to ensuring  girls achieve their full potential by staying in school and not undergoing child marriages. According to data by UNICEF, 52% of girls are married before 18 and around a third of all girls in South Sudan are pregnant before the age of 15. Child marriage is further fuelled by food insecurity, as i in times of crisis, families resort to arranging marriages for their daughters. UNFPA is working with the government of South Sudan and other partners using innovative ways to end child marriage in South Sudan by engaging women and girls at the community level through various activities such as sports. 


The Girls’ football tournament reached thousands of girls throughout Juba, advocating for the end of child marriages, ending period poverty and ending unintended pregnancies through awareness campaigns at the Buluk ground. Through the #Musharaka4Tanmiya (Partnership for development) campaign partners came together to educate girls on family planning methods as well as menstrual hygiene to ensure each and every girl in South Sudan maintains her dignity during her  menses.

Among initiatives to support menstrual health and hygiene, UNFPA reaches women and girls with education, safe sanitation facilities, including in camps for internally displaced persons, and with dignity kits containing essentials like soap, menstrual hygiene supplies and underwear. During the tournament, UNFPA supported 336 girls from 16 football clubs with dignity kits.