Start date
Project description

Ishraq was a community-based program which challenged traditional concepts of gender-appropriate behaviour. In an experimental intervention, girls and women in rural Egypt were afforded a safe space to meet and participate in sport and education. Ishraq focused on the development of new leadership skills and freedom of expression and movement, essential ingredients for empowerment


The aims were to ensure that participating girls :

  • Have fun in a safe and activity-based environment
  • Enhance feelings of self-worth and self-confidence
  • Maintain mental and physical health
Target group
Children & Youth

Population Council, Save the Children, Egypt Table Tennis


Since August of 2001, Ishraq has been providing out-of-school adolescent girls with safe spaces to learn, play, and grow. In addition to offering literacy and life skills, the program empowers a new generation of young girls through opportunities for sports and recreation. Ishraq’s sport component is an innovative intervention in traditional rural communities. The program promotes the rights of girls and women to full participation in all aspects of public life, including sports and physical education. Introducing the concept of sports for adolescent girls in traditional, rural communities of Egypt is an unprecedented challenge. These communities are accustomed to seeing only boys engage in sports, and sports infrastructures are more supportive of male than female participation

Project Content:

In March 2003, ITTF, with its Egyptian counterpart ETTA, offered a 3-day introductory training course to twenty classroom promoters and sports trainers (males and females). This event was highly appreciated by the project staff and the community at large who attended this successful event. Training was based on the international program called “BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS WITH TABLE TENNIS BALLS”


  • To ensure early on that beneficiaries’ parents and community at large have a good understanding of the sports program
  • To target an age bracket that is not too old for girls to play (from 11 to 14 will be the best)
  • To select times and days of play in
  • To choose a facility that is within walking distance from their homes
  • To ensure that girls feel safe from the fear of being harassed by boys and men while they play, thereby protecting their dignity and reputations
  • In conservative settings, to ensure that girls play only with girls, at least in the beginning
  • To select locally recruited young women to serve as sports promoters
  • To introduce sports in a friendly, non-threatening environment and keep the program simple

Impacts and results:

The girls that participated in the program have been successful in overcoming obstacles to their participation in sports and are looking forward to an active life for themselves and their daughters:

  • 95% of participants said they would be encourage other girls to play sports and 99% will encourage their daughters to play sports
  • 95% said that boys are wrong in believing that girls can’t play sports
  • 88% said that sports changed them positively, as they now feel healthier, have social confidence, increased self-esteem, have developed new friendships, and are more active

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