On January 25, 2024, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) in Pakistan hosted a landmark Futsal Tournament for women in Islamabad, setting a new precedent in the realm of sports and gender equality. Teams representing various provinces, including Chitral, Karachi, and Quetta, participated in this spirited competition, showcasing exceptional talent and competitive spirit.
The tournament's finale was a thrilling match where Karachi emerged victorious against Chitral with a close score of 3-2, winning the gold medal. The event was attended by prominent figures, including the High Commissioner for Canada to Pakistan, Ms. Leslie Scanlon, and the Chairperson of NCHR, Ms. Rabiya Javeri Agha, who both emphasized the significance of the tournament in fostering inclusivity and empowering women in sports.
In his address at the prize distribution ceremony, Caretaker Minister for Privatization and Sports, Fawad Hassan Fawad, highlighted the changing landscape of sports in Pakistan, particularly noting the increasing participation of women in various sports disciplines. He emphasized the ongoing efforts to remove barriers for women in sports and encouraged the audience to support women's participation in sports to help realize their dreams.
Chairperson of the National Commission for Human Rights, Rabia Javeri Agha, expressed her gratitude to all stakeholders for their contribution to the success of the tournament. The event was part of the "Empower Her" campaign, supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives. The campaign included a series of training camps, tournaments, mentoring sessions, panel discussions, and a final exhibition match in Islamabad.
Bank AL-Habib also joined the campaign, supporting Quetta’s Hazara Women United football team. The "Empower Her" campaign was designed to address challenges that hinder girls and women from participating in sports, especially football, in Pakistan. These challenges include limited sports infrastructure, inadequate funding, societal stereotypes, gender biases, a lack of training and developmental opportunities, and insufficient female representation at all levels of the sport.
The campaign aims to establish a supportive and inclusive sports ecosystem that empowers women and girls to actively participate, compete, and excel in football. Focusing initially on four cities - Karachi, Quetta, Chitral, and Islamabad - the project involves collaboration with local implementing partners deeply embedded within the beneficiary communities. These include the Karishma Ali Foundation in Chitral, Hazara United Football Club in Quetta, and Karachi United Foundation in Karachi.
This initiative represents a significant stride towards equality and inclusivity in Pakistan's sports sector, providing a platform for women to showcase their talents and break barriers in a traditionally male-dominated field.