Today the International Day of Sport and Peace is being celebrated around the world. This day provides an opportunity to recognize the positive role that sport and physical activity play in communities and in people’s lives across the globe.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Scoring for People and the Planet”, focusing on sustainability and climate action, gender equality, and the fight against racism and hate speech.
Sport has the power to change the world. It is a fundamental right and a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and promote sustainable development and peace, as well as solidarity and respect for all. Sport offers tremendous potential for advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for promoting peace and human rights.
From empowering women and girls, young people, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups to advancing health, sustainability, and education objectives, sport transcends many SDGs to address different developmental challenges.
In Zimbabwe, the setting is characterized by increased vulnerability owing to climate change, economic crisis, conflict, and political intolerance.
Alarming levels of poverty, food insecurity, health insecurity, unemployment, human rights violations, inflation, Covid-19-induced setbacks as well as extreme weather events like drought are issues dominating the Zimbabwean space.
In this context, sport is one of the strategies to address conflict and crisis through building Peace, Justice, and Strong democratic institutions (SDG 17).
One organization that has recognized the potential of sport to promote peace and social cohesion in Zimbabwe is the 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation.
In 2022, they won the International Peace Award for using sport as a tool to promote peace, tolerance and social cohesion amongst political parties in Zimbabwe from the Peace and Sport International organization.
The 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation’s intervention included diverse youth groups and political parties. This intervention cut across several sustainable development goals such as Good Health and Well-being (SDG 3), Gender Equality (SDG 5) and Reduced Inequalities (SDG 10).
Gender equality, democratic participation, peacebuilding and inclusion of the marginalized became key variables that the organization pursued using sport.
The effects of building peace through sport include civic engagement, public dialoguing, climate change and biodiversity conservation education and awareness, unification of polarized groups, gender mainstreaming, social cohesion and interactions, tolerance, enhanced democratic participation and sound policymaking.
Sport is an agonistic social practice that enables humans to compete in a persuasive, respectful, peaceful and productive way.
In conclusion, the sport has the power to unite communities and promote sustainable development and peace.
The 4-H Zimbabwe Foundation’s use of sport as a tool to promote peace and social cohesion amongst political parties in Zimbabwe is an inspiring example of the positive impact that sport can have on society.
As we celebrate the International Day of Sport and Peace, let us continue to recognize and promote the potential of sport to advance the SDGs and to promote peace and human rights.
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