First Women in Sport Seminar staged in Rio de Janeiro

17/09/2018 – On Friday 14 September, Fight for Peace’s fearless young women launched their manifesto at the 1st Women in Sport Seminar, held at the Reffetorio Gastromotiva, and supported by the U.S. State Department, the University of Tennessee and the Consulate General of the United States in Rio de Janeiro.

The seminar marked the end of the first phase of the Fearless project at Fight for Peace, staged in partnership with journalist Carol Barcellos, in which young women from Complexo da Maré take part in a combination of running training and personal development, all linked to the theme of female empowerment.

“I think that the name that we created for the project (Fearless) is really strong and it is so appropriate for these young women. The project came about following an interview that I did with Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run marathons. After the interview had finished and we were chatting, Kathrine said ‘rather than thanking me, give back to the sport everything that it has given you.’ And that’s how I came to connect with Fight for Peace and the idea of creating a running project. Today we are celebrating the completion of one year of the project, but this is just the start, I am sure of this. It’s the start of a process of fighting for greater gender equality. Uniting is the first step towards us getting somewhere because alone we won’t get there – being here together today signifies the start of this new movement”, explained Carol Barcellos.

Present at the event were a number of women who make a real difference on a daily basis – including supporters, athletes and journalists – all of whom fight so that others can take their places at the highest level of competitive sport. This fight is crucial in a world which is still so closed to widespread and effective participation by women and girls.

The seminar began with an opening address by Ana Caroline Belo, a former Fight for Peace member and the current Head of our Rio Academy:

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“I was one of the first women to participate in boxing sessions at Fight for Peace, a sport considered extremely masculine. At that time, I, together with three other women said ‘No! We are going to do boxing, because we believe it is important and will bring many good things to our lives. We fought to participate and, from that point, Fight for Peace took a different view. We now have sports sessions which are very balanced in terms of gender, with many young women and girls in all of our activities. Today women occupy a number of spaces that they should have been occupying for a long time, and it makes me really happy that Fight for Peace has been by our side in this daily fight. That’s why seeing all of these female Fight for Peace members here today in this auditorium, and thinking about the road that brought us all here, is so satisfying.”

“An even bigger achievement, however, is seeing that today at Fight for Peace we have a group of staff equipped to give the necessary support to those who are suffering any type of violence, and that we have a group exclusively focused on the theme of Gender and Sexuality. It is a huge honour for me to be here today as Head of the Rio Academy, knowing that the work I do makes a difference in the lives of so many other women who are taking advantage of some of the same opportunities that I had.”

Below are some more thoughts from participants at Fight for Peace’s 1st Women in Sport Seminar:

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“My connection with combat sports started as a way of overcoming trauma caused by the domestic violence that I suffered. That’s all I knew and I wanted to respond to that violence in the same way. With Fight for Peace’s support, I was able to find other ways of reacting. Today, together with some friends at Fight for Peace, I am starting to create a new project for women over 28 years old from Maré, aimed at taking them out of their comfort zone and teaching self-defence so that they don’t suffer from domestic violence in their homes.”
Raíssa Lima, member and assistant judo coach at Fight for Peace.

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“Starting off in judo was tough, especially as a woman. Despite my injury, judo was my biggest love and the source of my pain. It was a mixture of love with awful pain. But I am here! I was injured in 2014 which interrupted my judo career. I was 20 years old and I thought that that would be the end of my sporting career. I went through a period of depression, staying at home and  not wanting to see anyone. I received a lot of support from the Brazilian Paralympic Committee in São Paulo, and I became a coach as a result. With five months to go to complete the final stage in this process, I trained a lot and I thought to myself ‘I didn’t come here to give up, I am not in this sport for nothing. I didn’t go through all that I have been through, through depression and through pain in hospital, for nothing.’ Now my objective is the Tokyo Paralympic Games. I will be at Tokyo.”
Tuanny Barbosa, Paralympic shot putter.

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Fight for Peace wishes to extend a big thank you to all guests for making the seminar not only a moment of celebration for the Fearless project, but, most of all, a historic moment in the fight for inclusion and respect. As the Fight for Peace members affirm in their manifesto: WE ARE FEARLESS AND WE WILL GO FAR!