Tackling the patriarchy: the football pitch as a transformative field for girls and women

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Noben, Kirsten
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The aim of this thesis is to investigate the transformative power of football for women and girls. It will first conceptualise football as a space for male hegemony and power, and hence of interest to feminists. This dissertation will expand upon the history of women’s football as a space of gendered discrimination, to the extent that this is still visible today. It will find that when girls and women play football there is extensive stereotyping deriving from social constructions determining gendered behaviour. It will find that precisely because of this male hegemony, football becomes a space for ‘empowerment’ or change for women. This thesis will subsequently draw upon empowerment theories as put forward by prominent feminist scholars within development. These theories will be extensively applied to the case study of this thesis, a grassroots girls’ football team based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was founded to raise gender awareness within a patriarchal society. It will be argued that football can be a useful tool for transformative change for girls and women on a personal and relational level even though there is remaining structural bias impeding social change.
Second semester University: University of Vienna
sports, gender discrimination, women, Bosnia and Herzegovina, patriarchy, feminism