In recognition of the International Day of the Girl and its theme “Invest in Girls’ Rights: Our Leadership, Our Well-being,” a look at the role of girls in shaping future societal structures is warranted.
The Whanake o te Kōpara programme, co-facilitated by The Shift Foundation and Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa, provides a pertinent case study in this discourse, illustrating the transformative impact of targeted leadership development initiatives for young wāhine/women, particularly within the sport, active recreation, and haoura/wellbeing sectors.
Our Programme Overview – Whanake o te Kōpara
Whanake o te Kōpara, executed over three iterations from March 2021 to September 2023, has been meticulously co-designed with the kōhine participants to ensure alignment with their unique needs and aspirations. The programme, while utilising human-centred leadership frameworks and practices, prioritises the experiential learning journey over specific outcomes, amplifying the inherent strengths of each participant and enabling them to effect change within themselves and their broader communities.
Kylie Moana Teresa Heihei, a participant from the 2023 cohort, articulates the impact succinctly:
“This six-month journey has been nothing short of transformative for me and all the other kōhine fortunate enough to be a part of it. Your dedication to guiding and mentoring us has left an indelible mark on our lives.”
The programme has facilitated the leadership journeys of twenty participants in each cohort from across Aotearoa, each with diverse backgrounds, opportunities, education, ages, and ethnicities. In the 2022 cohort, over 50% of participants identified as Māori, with others identifying as Filipina, Lebanese, Chinese, German, and Pākehā. All shared a unified passion for physical activity and wellbeing and a desire to challenge traditional frameworks and structures, building their confidence as diverse leaders.
Sport and Leadership: An Intersecting Paradigm
Sport, beyond its physical dimensions, emerges as a significant vehicle for social, emotional, and mental development. For kōhine, engagement in sports provides a platform to dismantle barriers, challenge stereotypes, and establish an environment conducive to leadership, empowerment, and collective hauora.
Global Context and Advocacy for girls’ Rights
In a global environment, where girls navigate multifaceted challenges and disparities, sport serves as a universal language, bridging gaps and paving a path towards empowerment and leadership. Kōhine are not mere participants in this journey; they are the leaders of change, advocating for their rights and establishing spaces where their voices are acknowledged and respected.
Collective Responsibility and Future Directions
Navigating the complexities of the global landscape necessitates a collective responsibility towards investing in our kōhine and ensuring equity across all spheres. This commitment must permeate our policies, institutions, and societal attitudes.
As we reflect on the outcomes and learnings from the 2023 cohort of Whanake o te Kōpara and look towards 2024, let us reaffirm our commitment to investing in our kōhine, recognising their potential, and ensuring they have the opportunities, platforms, and support to become the leaders and changemakers of tomorrow.
Support us in this pivotal journey, for in the hauora and empowerment of our kōhine, lies the well-being of our future generations.
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