Fight for Peace has welcomed two new Female Engagement Youth Workers, Athena Bashar and Nicole Kunda to the team. They will be key in the important work of supporting more young women and girls in our services, particularly within combat sports.
Athena has been a Fight for Peace Youth Worker for three years, leads our women’s only boxing sessions, and is also a muay thai coach. While Nicole has previously worked as a volunteer to support the delivery of our all-female personal development sessions, Lutadoras.
We had a conversation with them both to hear their thoughts on why these roles are so important in supporting more young women and girls at Fight for Peace.
What does the role of Female Youth Workers involve?
N – We are here to support young women to better themselves mentally, emotionally and physically. I think Fight for Peace is an amazing place for young girls to come and improve themselves. Creating that safe space as youth workers is really important.
A – It can be difficult to get young women to open up and be interested in boxing and martial arts if that’s not what they come to Fight for Peace for. It’s important that we’re here to give them the right support and guidance and make our space as inclusive as possible. We’ve recently seen the numbers of women attending increase massively.
N – It’s amazing the work we’ve done so far, especially with the Lutadoras, for example our Your Best Friend sessions work with young girls who have been in toxic relationships so they are able to identify red flags and toxic behaviours. Even if they haven’t been in toxic relationships it’s about being able to help a friend that has been. So having that type of support there is amazing and I think that’s what we’re here to do – to create that safe space for young people to come and speak about their issues and not only focus on boxing.
What’s your vision for young women and girls at Fight for Peace?
N – I’d love to see a mixture of women come to Fight for Peace, from feminine women to masculine women, and those who identify with both. Yes we offer sports, but also personal development so courses in things like make-up and nails are also important. We embrace all women, whether you want to be in the gym or more involved in things like makeup and hair. I want women to know you can do both if you want to.
That’s why I’m asking the girls what they want to learn so they have an opportunity to start and promote their own businesses. If we can help them tap into that side of Fight for Peace it’d be great.
A – I agree. Also for me, my vision is to get more girls into fitness and make it known it’s not a masculine thing, especially because combat sports are seen as masculine by a lot of young women.
Some girls don’t want to do it because they don’t want to get broad shoulders and things like that but there’s so much more to it. Keeping fit isn’t a gender thing, it’s an everyone type of thing.
I also want young boys and men to see how strong women really are and make it a safe space for everyone to train together. I want it to be more inclusive as getting girls into the mixed session can be hard.
N – Right, you can do sports without losing your identity and the figure you have. It’s just important to be able to educate yourself on the mental, physical and emotional benefits of training, and that’s why we’re here.
Our female-only sports sessions take place every Tuesday and Thursday from 6pm and are open to all abilities. The Thursday session is combined with Lutadoras, a personal development group where women and girls and those who identify as non-binary come together to share views, experiences and opinions in an open and non-judgemental space.