On the occasion of the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007, FIFA and UNICEF today (7 September) officially kicked off Goals for Girls!, a new joint campaign to harness the power of sport, particularly football, to promote education, gender equality and the rights of women and girls. The 16 best women's national teams from the six confederations will be competing from 10 to 30 September in Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin and Wuhan to be crowned world champion. Goals for Girls! will use the 5th major women's football competition as a platform to explain how educating girls not only helps eliminate gender discrimination but also contributes to addressing many of the most serious problems their communities face.
"FIFA is proud to join forces with UNICEF once again by dedicating one of its major events to this campaign and thus seek to empower girls and narrow the gender gap," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. "FIFA's long-standing partnership with UNICEF is founded on our two organisations' shared goal to support the rights of children, especially those of girls. Football has an indispensable role to play as a tool for promoting integration, education and communication and, as such, it can help build a better future." Blatter said, underlining his belief in the social power of sport.
"Children, everywhere, have a right to education, and educating girls is a key to defeating poverty, hunger, disease, violence, abuse and exploitation," said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. "Through Goals for Girls!, UNICEF and FIFA will take this important message to soccer fans around the world."
Using participating athletes as role models, Goals for Girls! will drive home the message that education helps girls gain the knowledge and confidence they need to pursue their dreams and to contribute to the betterment of their families, their communities and their countries. The UNICEF-FIFA campaign promotes the child-friendly school model, offering both genders a quality education in a safe environment, even in emergency situations. UNICEF also works with partners and governments to remove barriers to education, including school fees and lack of access.
Since 2001, UNICEF and FIFA have teamed up on many occasions, using the world's most popular sport to inform them about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and help protect them from violence and exploitation. Promoting equality in education is a recurring theme for the partnership, based on the success of the 2003 'Go Girls!' campaign.
UNICEF is active in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, drinking water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.