As the T20 World Cup gets underway, UNICEF and the International Cricket Council (ICC) have launched a global partnership with the goal to empower girls and women and promote inclusion and gender equality through cricket.
Worldwide initiatives, involving some of the game’s best players, will form the basis of the partnership, which aims to mobilise the power of cricket to drive positive social change and encourage everyone to #BeAChampion for gender equality.
Australia men’s T20 captain Aaron Finch is leading the call. He said: “I am so proud, as the dad of a daughter, to #BeAChampion for girls and support the partnership between the ICC and UNICEF to promote gender equity through cricket.
“Cricket has more than one billion fans and we have a huge platform to empower women and girls through our sport. Every single cricket fan can join me and #BeAChampion and together we can harness cricket to build a better future.”
Through this new partnership, the ICC will use its global platforms, including its broadcast and digital channels to support UNICEF’s work and highlight girls around the world in gender equitable situations.
Speaking on the partnership, Geoff Allardice, ICC CEO, said: “Harnessing the power of cricket to build a better future is a central part of our global growth strategy. So, I am delighted to be continuing our partnership with UNICEF to empower women and girls through cricket.”
Elaborating on the partnership, Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, said: “The partnership with the ICC is fantastic and powerful. It reaches more than a billion cricket fans with the message to be a champion for girls. When girls do better, we all do better. We know that the benefits of gender equality go beyond their direct impact on children. With gender equality, we create a world of tolerance and shared responsibility – a world that is fit for children.”
UNICEF has long advocated for the role of sport, recreation and play in child development from early childhood to adolescence through the Sport for Development Program (S4D). These initiatives have been shown to build children’s leadership skills and self-esteem.
In Australia, the UNICEF team has supported programs in neighbouring countries including Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. And in South Asia in Sri Lanka, a S4D program has shown to enable gender equality through cricket.
“Sport can be a great equaliser,” says UNICEF Australia Director of International Programs, Felicity Wever.
“Particularly in a country like Sri Lanka where cricket is traditionally seen as a boys’ sport and it’s only recently been understood as a sport that girls can also play, and that they can play it at the highest levels of the game. Sport can help challenge these gender stereotypes, because if we’re all playing, then maybe we’re not that different.”
As part of this collaboration, UNICEF and the ICC will launch Criiio 4 Good, an 8-week cricket for development curriculum teaching girls and boys the fundamentals of batting, bowling and fielding, while promoting greater gender equity.
All 16 competing nations will also hold Cricket 4 Good Coaching Clinics at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup venues during the tournament, with up to 40 school children taking part in each one.
Donations made to UNICEF Australia to help empower girls through sport will support Sports for Development programs. For instance, $39 could help us deliver a comprehensive sport for development program for a student focusing on skills, wellbeing and inclusion, and $112 could train a teacher to deliver quality sport programs focusing on skills, physical health and wellbeing and inclusion.