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In recent years, sport has demonstrated its enor- mous capacity to propel women and girls’ empower- ment. It mobilizes the global community and speaks to youth. It unites across national barriers and cul- tural differences. Sports is a powerful tool to convey important messages in a positive and celebratory environment – often to mass audiences. In addition, it teaches women and girls the values of teamwork, self-reliance and resilience; has a multiplier effect on their health, education and leadership develop- ment; contributes to self-esteem, builds social con- nections, and challenges harmful gender norms.

Many actors in the sport ecosystem are making significant strides to advance gender equality and womens rights to achieve the Beijing call for gen- eration equality. UNFPA South Sudan not being left behind, is using sports as a vehicle to advance its mandate in ensuring female athletes get access to their reproductive rights, as well as getting access to a wide range of sexual and reproductive health services.

Through sports UNFPA is working with various stakeholders, such as South Sudan Football Fed- eration, Kulang Sports Academy and the South Sudan Boxing Federation to ensure female ath- letes maintain their dignity and have access to their comprehensive sexuality education. UNFPA has been instrumental in the provision of dignity kits to various sports federations giving women access to reusable pads, hygiene products and items to ensure they are able to manage their menstrual hygiene

“For some girls, menstrual products are easily ac- cessible, while some others barely have access to pads and are forced to use mattress foam or cloth to hide their periods. The provision of kits by UNFPA to the women’s team is a blessing. We can continue with our training and not have to miss sessions due to our periods. We are truly grateful for this support.” Chiang Thomas Manyol, Bright Starlets Midfielder.

The provision of dignity kits and playing kits for the female athletes not only offers them hope of a brighter tomorrow, but enables them continue with their training towards achieving their full potential as athletes. Through the partnerships formed, UNFPA is able to integrate comprehen- sive sexuality education awareness to the athel- tes and surrounding communities by working with partners, such as Shabab Le Shabab and Afriyan South Sudan who mentor the community. For instance, during the Kulang sports tour- nament Afriyan played a key role in educating spectators and teams that took part over the 3 week tournament on menstrual hygiene man- agement through a series of training and prac- tical demonstrations on how to use the various products.

“For UNFPA South Sudan, it is important for us to reaffirm the message that girls can partici- pate in sports and attain their full potential just like boys. We continue to work with a range of partners to provide platforms for women to chal- lenge gender norms and be champions of gen- der equality.” Dr. Ademola Olajide UNFPA South Sudan Representative

UNFPA aims to further support various stakeholders by creating youth friendly centers as a plat- form to encourage more female athletes to get in- volved and attain their full potential through sports, challenge gender norms and become champions in gender equality