As a company that plants trees, we’re often championing the benefits of getting outdoors and getting active. But with this encouragement, it’s important to acknowledge that safely accessing and enjoying outdoor spaces is a privilege that not everyone holds.
While you may not think twice about jogging to the park or cycling with friends, opportunities like these are extremely limited or non-existent in regions of the world where conflict and war have created insecurity and a lack of resources. Restrictions in these areas are often even worse for the women and girls who live there. The most vulnerable to violence and other human rights violations, they’re stripped of their right to safely and boldly engage in outdoor activities.
Knowing this and holding a firm belief that we all deserve the right to move freely outdoors, this International Women’s Day, we’re supporting a nonprofit organization called Free To Run that uses adventure sports to support women and girls living in areas of conflict. By finding ways for women and girls to safely and boldly engage in outdoor activity, Free To Run empowers them to reclaim public space, build their physical, emotional and social wellbeing and change the views held about women’s roles in society.
About Free To Run
Free to Run operates in some of the most challenging regions in the world, where decades of conflict and instability have resulted in extreme social isolation for women and girls, harassment, constrained mobility, and unequal access to education. Since 2014, Free To Run has worked to create positive change in the lives of over 3,000 women and girls living in regions of conflict.
The women and girls who participate in Free To Run programs take part in public, outdoor sports within their community several times a week, as well as week-long leadership events throughout the year. Participants venture outside their usual environments and try new sports like camping, kayaking, cycling, ice skating, and skiing. In addition to reclaiming public spaces through outdoor activities, the women also spend time volunteering in their communities, often leading local projects.
Free To Run programs have tangible benefits for both women and girls and their surrounding communities. On an individual level, sport and physical activity help women cultivate emotional and physical well-being, gain valuable life skills and education, convene around a common interest, build social networks and encourage independence when it comes to participating in activities outside the home. While in their communities, and on a regional and national level, these programs are used as a tool to promote gender equity, enhance children’s and women’s rights, and address harmful, discriminatory practices.
To learn more about how Free To Run empowers women and girls through sport, and how you can support their work, head to www.freetorun.org.
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