Our Program Director, Beth Tumiel, will be in Pakistan in partnership with Women Win over the next two weeks where she will be Advancing the Playing Field for Girls with other national organizations who use sports as a tool for girls’ empowerment and social change. She will be sharing her journey with us on our blog, and on our social media accounts (Follow us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).
On my long flight to Karachi, a man looked over at the book I was reading and said, “I’m in love with this leader. She is amazing.”
I had picked up a copy of Benazir Bhutto’s book Reconciliation to read for the flight, having been recommended by our sponsoring organization, Women Win. A refresher: Benazir Bhutto was the prime minister of Pakistan from 1988-1990 and 1993-1996 and the leader of the Pakistan People’s Party before her assassination in 2007. She was the first woman leader of a Muslim state, and a leader who advocated for democracy and people’s participation as a pillar of a free society.
She is indeed amazing and her story is inspiring. Her conviction and courage are best told in her own words. When she was dissuaded from parading down the street upon her return to Pakistan in 2007, she said “I knew that those who believed in democracy and my leadership were awaiting me in the streets of Karachi and that they had come from all over the country, spending their own money and taking time off of work, to show their support for my party and for our cause of freedom and human dignity. After what they were doing for me, I thought it was wrong to slip away behind their backs and skulk secretly home.”
By giving so much, leaving her three children and husband behind in Dubai, she made sure to honor what others were giving. THAT is true leadership.
She attributes much of her success to being brought up “in a home of gender equality.” She says, “we were taught never to accept artificial limits on what we could be in life.”
Now, I will never be a Benazir Bhutto, and perhaps none of our coaches will be. But what we can do is make sure that we send that same messages to the girls we work with. “Never accept artificial limits on what we could be in life.” And then, maybe one day, someone sitting on a plane will say to themselves, or some traveler, about one of the girls in our program, “I’m in love with this leader. She is amazing.” That is what we should be working towards at Girls in the Game.