JAKARTA, 8 August 2019 – In conjunction with ASEAN’s 52nd Anniversary, the 2019 ASEAN Sports Day was celebrated at the ASEAN Secretariat Heritage Building by highlighting the role of football in women empowerment as well as for societal development and peace. Officially dubbed as “ASEAN Sports Day 2019: Women in Football for an Inclusive ASEAN Community,” the event was organised to promote the participation of women and girls in sports, particularly football.

The event featured a talk show with Souraiya Farina, Secretary of the Women’s Football Association of Indonesia together with Daniella Daphne and Zahra Muzdalifah, Indonesian national female football players, and Dr. Sita Sumrit, Head of Poverty Eradication and Gender Division of ASEAN Secretariat as speakers. The female football players demonstrated their football skills through a mini demo and interactive challenges that were applauded by the visitors.

Sports is considered one of the drivers of gender equality as it teaches women and girls the values of teamwork, self-reliance and resilience. Indonesia’s efforts to revive women’s professional football, spearheaded by the Football Association of Indonesia – known as Persatuan Sepakbola Seluruh Indonesia or PSSI, appears as a good practice in women empowerment through sports.

“The development of women’s football in Indonesia has been exceptional. We raise public awareness on women’s football through social media, by promoting positive image of woman athlete and challenging the traditional view that being a woman athlete is unnatural,” said Ms. Farina.

Raising ASEAN awareness through sporting activities and bringing ASEAN peoples together to benefit the community is one of the priorities of the ASEAN sports sector while women empowerment is under the ASEAN women and gender sector.

“The goal of promoting gender equality is not to encourage women to be like men or to hate men, rather, for women to be provided with equal opportunities and acceptance within the society,” said Dr. Sumrit.

Students, youth representatives, diplomatic officials, and partner organisations from across ASEAN Member States and partner countries joined the celebration. The event was a collaboration between PSSI and the ASEAN Secretariat, supported by the Indonesian Ministry of Youth and Sports.

In 2016, the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Sports, agreed to designate the birth date of ASEAN as the ASEAN Sports Day. ASEAN Member States, comprising Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, have since been given the discretion to commemorate ASEAN Sports Day as close as possible to 8 August with a view to raising ASEAN awareness and promoting healthy lifestyles.