In Albania football and a mobile app get men to commit to gender equality

The HeForShe in Stadiums and HeForShe Fan mobile app use football in a three-month campaign to reach men and boys across Albania, encouraging them to empower women, stop discrimination and speak out against gender-based violence.

Date: Friday, October 21, 2016

During the World Cup Qualifiers match between Albania Vs. Spain, HeForShe solidarity movement was echoed amid thousands of football fans in 'Selman Stermasi’ Stadium – Shkoder.

During the World Cup Qualifiers match between Albania Vs. Spain, HeForShe solidarity movement was echoed amid thousands of football fans in 'Selman Stermasi’ Stadium – Shkoder. Photo: LSA

Channelling the power of technology and football fans’ passion for the ‘beautiful game’, the HeForShe campaign in Albania is reaching men and boys on the football pitch and through their mobile phones – to get them to commit to gender equality.

Together, the HeForShe in Stadiums campaign and the HeForShe Fan mobile app encourage men and boys to learn about, speak up and act to empower women, stop discrimination and speak out against gender-based violence.

HeForShe Fan: A Mobile Application for football lovers where you can play, share messages and engage for gender equality.
HeForShe Fan: A Mobile Application for football lovers where you can play, share messages and engage for gender equality.

Supported by the Albanian Football Federation, the HeForShe in Stadiums campaign will run over 10 consecutive matches of Albania’s national football championship.

For three months, this will fill Albania’s top Super League stadiums with HeForShe messages and visuals. HeForShe volunteers will greet arriving fans with awareness-raising materials and engage them in discussions, and young fans in HeForShe T-shirts will accompany players on to the field for pre-match ceremonies. In addition, the HeForShe Fan mobile app will bring gender equality messages to thousands of football fans in every corner of Albania.

“Football is passion. As a fan and as Head of Albanian Football Federation, I know well the energy and emotions football gives to fans. So, with UN Women Albania, we thought to make football a bridge to empower society and make Albanian Super League fans reflect on gender equality,” said Mr. Armand Duka, Head of the Albanian Football Federation.

“I am today a #HeForShe, and as the Head of Albanian Football Federation, I will engage to make football stadiums, arenas of fair play, and also a place where man and boys discuss for gender equality,” added Mr. Duka.

A girl in the stadium of Niko Dovana - Durres, downloading the Application: 'HeForShe Fan’ . Violana. Murataj/UN Women
A girl in the stadium of Niko Dovana - Durres, downloading the Application: 'HeForShe Fan’. Photo: UN Women/Violana Murataj

Supported by the Vodafone Foundation, a 10x10x10 HeForShe Impact Champion, the HeForShe Fan app gives fans a chance to win an android tablet or phone by playing either the LIVE real time quiz from the game they are watching, or a weekly OFFLINE quiz of tough football questions.

Challenging fans to engage and commit to gender equality with the message, “Change your Perspectives & Become a #HeForShe”, the app allows fans to interact via messaging, put their photo on their favourite team’s jersey, and share these on social media.

"The Football Federation and Vodafone Foundation have been amazing to bring HeForShe to the escapism of the game. The HeForShe Fan android app gives all of us the chance to win and learn, to win a smartphone and learn how to empower girls and women,” said Mr. David Sanders, UN Women Representative Albania.

The HeForShe in Stadiums and HeForShe Mobile App campaigns expect to reach most Albanian football fans in the coming months. This will make football a social tool for women’s empowerment and gender equality advocacy among men and boys across Albania.

During the World Cup Qualifiers match between Albania Vs. Spain, HeForShe solidarity movement was echoed amid thousands of football fans in 'Selman Stermasi’ Stadium – Shkoder. Photo: LSA
Young girls and boys, accompany the football players in the pitch, dressed in #HeForShe raising awareness on gender equality. Photo: LSA 

HeForShe, a global campaign for gender equality initiated by UN Women, uses technology to get men and boys to pledge and commit to take action against gender inequality.

Getting men to commit to gender equality is important in Albania, where despite recent reforms women face daunting challenges. Albanian women’s participation in political and economic decision-making remains limited. Violence against women is common. Little has been done to address the gender pay gap and improve women’s access to entrepreneurship services and credit.

Football is Albanian men and boys’ most popular sport, a game of values, fair play and equality. The HeForShe campaign has even reached Albanian football’s most hard-core fans, the Ultras, who each game gather to vehemently support their team and cow the opposing team and its fans.

Often portrayed as violent, hostile, troublemakers, the hardcore fans for two of Albania’s top teams -- Partizani and Tirana – accepted the HeForShe challenge to change their perspective and come forward for gender equality. The result surprised everyone, as the Tirana Ultras and Partizani Guerillas each recorded a video – not to their favourite team, but to praise women.

Tirana Ultras:

Partizani Guerillas: