Rima Yacoub, Jordan Program Director for Reclaim Childhood, 2021 WE Empower Finalist, Middle East and North Africa
As an active Jiu-Jitsu competitor, Rima Yacoub knows the power of utilizing sports to empower women and girls. This led Yacoub to become Director for Reclaim Childhood, which she proudly says is her calling in life. Reclaim Childhood works to provide safe spaces, empower and inspire young women and girls, and connect diverse communities that otherwise may not interact through sport. Yacoub states “I want them [women and girls] to have all of the opportunities available and to help them find their own calling, which can only happen if they reach their full potential.”
Reclaim Childhood launched its programming in 2008 as a four-week summer sports camp. Its primary goal is to serve the displaced Iraqi community. They have since expanded to be a year-round after-school sports practice, along with teen leadership development and coach training in East Amman and Zarqa. Over the years, Reclaim Childhood has adapted to the refugee crisis in Jordan to provide programming for refugees from seven countries and the Jordanian host community. As a result, Reclaim Childhood was recognized for its Connecting Refugee and Local Jordanian Women Through Sport Project as a winner of the Beyond Sports 2018 Sport for Refugees Award.
Empowering young women and girls through sport
As one of the only organizations in Jordan that provides sustainable girls sports programming over multiple years, Reclaim Childhood provides an array of program opportunities for refugee and host communities alike. Their aim is to break down the barriers to inclusion, build new communities in the face of the refugee crisis, and foster social cohesion. Through their Afterschool Sports Program, they have intentionally brought together diverse communities by “offering underserved girls the chance to participate regardless of nationality or refugee status.”
Determined to build strong young leaders both on and off the playing field, Reclaim Childhood has implemented the Qudrati Teen Leadership program that provides a safe space for young women and girls to meet on weekends and not only discuss topics important to their lives and communities, but also explore and expand on their abilities. Additionally, Reclaim Childhood continues its four-week Summer Camp program that is designed to keep girls engaged and combat social isolation.
In alignment with UN SDG 5: Gender Equality, Reclaim Childhood works to end all forms of discrimination and violence against and the exploitation of women and girls. By providing access to safe sports to over 250 Jordanian refugee girls and the hiring of an all-female staff of coaches from diverse backgrounds, Reclaim Childhood successfully runs programs as “an organization for women and girls, by women and girls” despite Jordan having one of the world’s lowest rates of female labor force participation.
The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is a first-of-its-kind global competition for women entrepreneurs who are pushing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and leading innovation in sustainability and climate change through their businesses. This Contributing Series highlights finalists of the Challenge whose work demonstrates how business models and social entrepreneurship can drive global impact.
By Danyelle Kawamura