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How Natsiraishe Maritsa is changing the game for young girls in Zimbabwe

Natsiraishe Maritsa received an IOC award in recognition of the work of her foundation, Auditorium for vulnerable minors, who is changing the lives of young girls in her community. His project is one of a series of projects that are carried out within the frameworkOlympism365an IOC strategy aimed at strengthening the role of sport in society and creating positive changes through sport.

Saddened by the impact early marriage had on those around her, Natsiraishe Maritsa decided to create Auditorium for vulnerable minors when she was still a teenager. She admitted that practicing taekwondo since the age of five prevented her from following the same path as many of her classmates, keeping her busy and teaching her valuable lessons she wanted to pass on to other girls.

According to UNICEF, in Zimbabwe:

  • One in three women aged 20 to 49 will marry before turning 18;
  • Factors that contribute to these forced marriages include poverty, a false sense of security, and social or religious norms;
  • Consequences include an increased risk of early pregnancy, limited career opportunities and cases of domestic violence.

“I saw many of my friends, classmates and relatives get married very young. I saw the negative effect these marriages had on them and I knew I had to do something,” explained Natsiraishe Maritsa. “I didn’t have the financial means to take action, but I had the qualities and skills that I had acquired through taekwondo. So I decided that I would try to pass them on to young girls in my community.”

Creating a safe place for girls and women

When Natsiraishe Maritsa started her foundation, she simply offered free taekwondo training to young people in a safe place, as a form of empowerment. But as the number of girls attending her foundation increased, she realized she needed to expand the range of services offered. Today, Natsiraishe Maritsa helps girls develop their life skills and depend on themselves to meet their basic daily needs.

Natsiraishe Maritsa

“We started implementing empowerment programs, for example to learn how to make liquid soap and cook simple meals. These skills allow us not to be financially dependent on men,” says Natsiraishe Maritsa. And he added: “We also distributed hygiene products so that young girls would not put themselves in danger by trying to obtain them illegally.”

We are moving forward with the support of the IOC

Influence of Auditorium for vulnerable minors continues to grow. Thanks to the recognition and support she received as the winner of the 2021 IOC Women and Sport Trophy for Africa – an award that celebrates change-makers in the pursuit of gender equality – Natsiraishe Maritsa was able to formally submit her foundation’s charter that same year. He also receives equipment from World Taekwondo to support his training and is therefore well on his way to expanding his reach beyond his local community.

“This trophy really encouraged and motivated me. I realized that I am not alone,” said Natsiraishe Maritsa. “I learned a lot from it: that we have to learn more, research, try to understand better what people in my country really need in their daily lives. I think this will really change the lives. number of people. This prompted my foundation.”

Gathering of the African Olympic Movement for Gender Equality

The ANOCA Gender Equality Forum takes place on October 2nd and 3rd in Cabo Verde and brings together key decision makers from the Olympic Movement in Africa. Forum participants will discuss how to guide sports organizations to become more gender balanced in all aspects of their work. The stories and experiences of speakers such as Natsiraishe Maritsa will provide insight and inspiration to all participants as they prepare to advocate for equality at the highest levels of their organizations.

Name the following IOC Gender Equality Champions

Applications for IOC Trophies “Champions of Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion” 2023 (formerly known as the IOC “Women and Sport” trophies) is now possible. Six trophies – one globally and one each for Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania – are awarded annually to exceptional individuals such as Natsiraishe Maritsa, who have advanced gender equality, gender diversity and inclusion in and through sport.

Applications must reach the IOC by October 20, 2023 – for more information and to complete the application form, Click here.

This is a revised version of an article originally published in Olympic review.

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