Beyond the social divide
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How can sport help bridge social divisions? A half day event at the Beyond Sport Summit has aimed to find out.

What are the roots of social divides – how and why do they occur? And what is sport’s role in addressing them?

A half day event on day two of the Beyond Sport Summit at the BT Centre in London aimed to answer these questions. A range of stakeholders participated in panel discussions, presentations and interactive sessions which encouraged audience participation in discussing the topic. Much of the focus was on current news stories, with a lot of discussion focusing on the war in Syria and the global refugee crisis. The audience was given a number of examples of sport projects being used to address diverse social divisions – from racial tensions in Memphis to the stigmatisation of people living with HIV and AIDS in Lesotho – and, at one point, was asked to work in groups to suggest solutions to challenges faced by specific organisations.

One highlight was when Fatuma Adan, founder of the Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) took to the stage to tell her story and that of her organisation. Living in northern Kenya in a context where restrictive norms make it difficult for women to have a voice, she gave up her legal training to play football and create HODI.

The organisation helps to tackle violence in a region where “carrying an AK47 is cool” and fighting between communities is common, while addressing issues which affect women and girls but are taboo to even discuss, such as female genital mutilation. The organisation is nominated for the Beyond Sport “Sport for Social Inclusion Award” and the winner will be announced this evening.

The session took place at the same time as a discussion focusing on “the Economic Divide” at another location in London, and sets the tone for this evening’s awards ceremony and the final day of the summit tomorrow.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]




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