IGI Stands Up for Gender Equality in Football and Insurance

Equal Playing Field has been fortunate to have many supporters over the last few years, and we take particular pride in the organizations who we have built true partnerships with in our quest to bring opportunity, equality and respect to #AnyGirlAnywhere. IGI Insurance is one of those partners who has gone the extra mile in supporting EPF both financially and physically in our world record attempts at Kilimanjaro, the Jordan Quest and most recently in Lyon.

So what do football and insurance have in common? More than you would think! We connected with Aaida Abu Jaber, Head of PR & Marketing & IGI’s Diversity & Inclusion Champion, to discuss her and her team’s experience at the Festival of Football and support of EPF over the past 3 years.

 

Firstly, congratulations on being part of the World Record Game in Lyon! As a team coming from different IGI offices across the world, how was your experience?

IGI has often used sport to bring our workforce together – which is not surprising given that it’s a fun and healthy foundation for teamwork and a different way to open dialogue, and also to unite and inspire beyond politics or workplace traditions. This was illustrated perfectly when a group of ten IGI women gathered in Lyon from London and Amman to break a Guinness World Record. The logistics and planning for this participation were a challenge, but the cause was worthwhile. With various football and fitness abilities, we were excited to join as we have experienced similar issues with gender disparity in the (re)insurance industry.

D&I efforts have become a priority for many insurance companies, which have started to understand that a diverse team and an inclusive culture are intrinsically linked to corporate success.

However, we were not expecting the heatwave! We were scheduled to play at 3pm when the temperatures reached 40C in Lyon, but we had to play double our time slot to keep the game going until delayed subs arrived. It was very challenging. One of our player’s trainers melted! But the whole experience inspired co-operation, teamwork, resilience, leadership, loyalty… and so much more.

The IGI team! From IGI Amman:  Aaida Abu Jaber, Zeina Al Muhtaseb, Zeina Haimour.  From IGI London : Maria Fahy, Rachel Keane, Chloe Saunders, Karolina Gylyte.  IGI   Partners : Sarah Hills, Caitlin Jennings, Lara Pedley.

The IGI team! From IGI Amman: Aaida Abu Jaber, Zeina Al Muhtaseb, Zeina Haimour. From IGI London: Maria Fahy, Rachel Keane, Chloe Saunders, Karolina Gylyte. IGI Partners: Sarah Hills, Caitlin Jennings, Lara Pedley.

 IGI has supported EPF for 3 years now. Reflecting on the beginning, what did you hope coming into the partnership, and has it been realised?

Our belief in EPF’s mission made us support it in the beginning. The incredible cause and work of EPF are noteworthy and we wanted to help champion the cause of empowering women in sports, especially since the insurance industry faces its own share of challenges in the gender disparity issue.  

Aside from it being fun and visible, working with EPF has given us tangible evidence on the best ways to encourage change. EPF has been breaking Guinness World Records since 2017 to highlight the gender issue, and IGI has supported all three successful world record attempts. We also regularly sponsor soccer clinics for underprivileged girls in remote villages of Jordan, where IGI is headquartered.

With events like the Women’s FIFA World Cup breaking viewer records, and the spotlight finally being turned on female misrepresentation in the insurance and reinsurance sectors, gender equality has taken centre stage. There has never been a more inspiring time for women to recognise their potential. This year’s Women’s World Cup challenged existing perceptions about the female game – viewers were watching and thinking of them as just football matches. I hope that soon female executives in the insurance and reinsurance industry too will be viewed as just senior employees. There is still a way to go before that is realised.

 

Can you tell us a bit more about IGI and your work on D&I in the PR & Marketing team?

We have been working on many initiatives at IGI to support diversity and inclusion. IGI has been a long-time supporter of equal opportunities for men and women in the industry and firmly believes that diversity is essential for the success and resilience of a company. IGI is an equal opportunity employer, embracing diversity and seeking talent, and it is proud to have a 50/50 ratio of men to women in its global workforce.

In 2018, IGI hosted - for the first time - the Lloyd’s of London ‘Dive In’ Festival for Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance in Jordan – where IGI is headquartered - and we will be hosting it again this year shedding light on safety in the workplace. The company has also recently partnered with ‘World of Letters’ and ‘Women as Partners in Progress’, a social enterprise looking to address gender imbalance in the work place. The group is funded by the US State Department and led by Arab women professionals to highlight gender imbalances in the workplace in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. We sponsor various market initiatives, such as the Insider Progress efforts and have partnered with the Insurance Supper Club, all in an effort to push this matter forward.

Finally, we are currently in the initial phases of pushing this matter and formalizing it at the Board level. A lot is on the agenda, but the process needs to start.

 

Gender equality is something that has truly brought EPF and IGI together. Equality in football is a slow burner, but how is progress in the insurance industry?

Empowering women at all levels in the workplace and providing them with the right skills to become leaders is vital if businesses are to be successful in the modern world. The insurance industry has a deep pool of female talent, but the market is not doing enough to promote or develop this talent, which should be utilised better at a senior and executive level. That being said, it is clear that the industry is taking the gender issue more seriously.

Schemes to improve D&I are filtering into normal working practises, with mentoring programmes, internships, graduate initiatives and similar initiatives all being introduced to improve cross-industry collaboration.

And it seems to be working. D&I efforts have become a priority for many insurance companies, which have started to understand that a diverse team and an inclusive culture are intrinsically linked to corporate success. But there is still work to be done. A study by the Association of British Insurers in February found that while gender diversity has improved at nearly all levels within the industry, only 27% of women currently hold executive positions.

The (re)insurance industry also needs to remember that diversity is not just about men and women, it means age, religion, disability, and more. Let’s hope we keep up the momentum and within a few years see boards and executive teams becoming more diverse.

 

How has work with EPF or the Festival of Football experience impacted your plans for the future? What can we expect from IGI in the coming years in terms of Diversity and Inclusion?

The goal of IGI helping to break EPF’s third Guinness world record is to make noise around the gender issue and help give it the attention it deserves. With a united front, women’s voices in sport and the insurance industry will be heard, and the support needed to exhibit serious change achieved.

When you look at the might of large companies in (re)insurance, we are a small fish in a large pond, and the resources we have are limited. But we work hard to be a good, profitable company. Part of being a good company is promoting ethical practices – and this is at the heart of our success. Our voice is strong in many regions where diversity is a problem. We will continue to strive to promote fairness and diversity in our offices around the world. We will do what we can. Imagine if everyone did that? Change would be almost instant.

What is your hope for #AnyGirlAnywhere?

We hope the #anygirlanywhere campaign initiated by the EPF this year catches momentum and becomes a strong movement to support girls everywhere on the globe in getting opportunity, equality and respect not only in football but in all walks of life, personally and professionally.

From our end, we will continue to support efforts to empower women in our region and internationally, and in our industry and beyond, to help in building a fair equal world.

 

Would you want to stay involved with EPF in the future?

Our now long-standing association with the EPF since its inception bonds us together to continue bolstering this relationship. The efforts and initiatives we worked on together in the past three years need to remain ongoing so that change is achieved and women in both sports and business get equality and respect.

We will be watching with interest future plans and initiatives of the EPF and will be happy to get involved in causes that promote equal opportunity for all.

You can learn more about IGI Insurance on their website or keep up with them on Twitter @IGInsurance!

INSIDE LOOK: 2019 EPF World Record Match Kit

Registration for the EPF World Record Match and Festival of Football is 20EUR for adults and 10EUR for kids.

This includes participation in the the world record attempt and access to 5 days of workshops, coaching sessions, film screenings, World Cup watch parties and… a commemorative match top and socks!

Check out the Official Jerseys Below!

Models & Jersey Size for Reference

Each player will get to choose their size when registered. Check out the sizes below for reference!

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From left to right…

  • Jamelia 5'3 / 162cm Wearing Men’s Medium

  • Zyisha: 5'7 / 174cm - Wearing Women’s Small

  • Karin: 5'1 / 155cm - Wearing women’s Medium

  • Husnaa: 5'5 / 168cm – Wearing Women’s Large — Referee Top!

  • Shegofa: 5'4 / 165cm – Wearing Men’s Extra large

  • Lakshmi: 5'5 / 168cm – Wearing Men’s small

  • Gerda: 5'4 / 165 cm – Wearing Women’s Extra Large

  • (Front) Lauryn: 5ft0 / 152cm – Wearing  Men’s large

  • (Not in group pic - B&W top, baseball cap ) Randa: 5'4 / 165cm Wearing Women’s large


The Design

Last fall we hosted a competition for our fans to design the match kits for the EPF World Record match and we ultimately combined the FOUR amazing designs into what is now our official match top. Shout out to the winners below for their support!

  • Al Nimri Wala - Jordan

  • Flora Dubois - France

  • Lucy Hills - UK

  • Paula Jaku - Albania


Thanks to Positive Youth Foundation

…for modeling the official kits! Check them out on Twitter @positiveyouth96 and Instagram @pyfcoventry.

Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) is a Midlands-based social enterprise that aims to raise the aspirations and life chances of young people between the ages of 8 and 25. Every year the organisation works with around 3000 young people in order to support them to overcome significant challenges in their lives. Drawing from the expertise and knowledge of its staff and previous clients, PYF aims to positively engage young people through adapted and tailored sport, leisure, education, social action and creative programmes.

 The organisation actively encourages Young People to lead on social change regarding issues that affect them and their peers on a local and national level. A number of female empowerment programmes has led to a surge of activism led by young females at PYF. Their key aim is to encourage more girls to take up team sports, regardless of ability or fitness level. Their marketing strategy looks to promote a wider representation of females enjoying sport.

Photographer: Tayyibah Mota

Twitter @TayyibahMota || Instagram @beingmuslim2019

Meet the Tennis for Kicks Team!

From June 27 - July 1 we will be attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the most number of players to participate in a football match. This will take over 3,000 players playing (and subbing) non-stop over about 5 days. The goal? To bring together women, girls and allies to our mission of gender equality in sport, from around the world, to learn from and connect with one another!

To make this run as smoothly as possible, we asked players to create teams at registration and gather 11 players to join them during a 4-hour window. Some team captains signed up with teammates they already knew, while others have left the open spaces for individuals looking for a team to join.

Tennis for Kicks is one of those teams that was formed "randomly” at registration and will bring together players from diverse locations, backgrounds and abilities. Meet their team below!

Emma Doyle

Country?
Melbourne Australia, Denver, Colorado, and Glasgow, Scotland

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?)
Tennis! Happy to play anywhere ... I'm a beginner with some coordination!

How did you hear about the event?
Through one of my close friends who is one of the organizers of the event - Laura (she's amazing) 

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share?
To have a blast, laugh a lot and be competitive of course!!!

What is a random fact about you?  
I gave a TEDx talk called Unleashing Female Potential - here is the link. ALSO, on Thursday night during the Festival of Football, - I'm running a workshop called the Confidence Factor - RSVP here. But also, I danced in the Australian Jitterbug championships (random)!!

Tina Samara

Country?
USA

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?)
I grew up playing tennis and soccer. In my later years I have added golf. I’m happy to play any position. 

How did you hear about the event?
Through Emma Doyle

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share?
Play, Enjoy the game, be part of something bigger than myself, and not pass out. 

 

Rawda

Country?
Jordan

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?)
My first sport is swimming. I  am professional swimming coach for local community and I coached soccer to my little students since I am a P. E. teacher too. I never played so I am just taking baby steps on the field and I don't mind to play in any position.

How did you hear about the event?
Equal Playing Field came to Jordan last year and played in lowest point of the world (Dead Sea) and since that time I have been following.

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share?
Just have a nice time to add to my life and beautiful memories. 

What is a random fact about you?
I love adventure. I have been in different countries before, and my passion is to discover new things and see as much as i can when I’m traveling, so I’m planning to go to Marseille on 28/6 after our match by train.

What is a random fact about you?
I am NorLankan. Half Norwegian, half Sri Lankan. Born in Norway and speak Norwegian. 

Michelle Cornish

Country?
Dallas, TX. I have lived in 22 homes in my life 

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?)
Tennis!!! I was a national junior player, collegiate player, coach and tennis programs director and now work within the tennis/pickleball/fitness product/equipment industry!  LOVE IT!

How did you hear about the event?
Emma Doyle encouraged me to join in on the fun!

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share?
My goal is to meet other people who are participating in the event and have a fun experience!

What is a random fact about you?
I was born with my legs bent and had to wear braces on my legs for 23 hrs per day my first year and then corrective shoes for the next 17 years. They told me that I would run faster because of my feet being” pigeon toed”/turned in, but I think that they were tricking me to feel like I could be a stronger athlete! Ha!

  

Kalindi Dinoffer

Country?
Dallas, Texas, USA

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?) 
I grew up playing competitive tennis and now am working in the tennis world! 

How did you hear about the event? 
Through Emma!

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share? 
Fun and meeting awesome new friends!

What is a random fact about you? 
I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life.

Dana Rösiger

Country?
Germany

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?) 
Sport always played a role in my life, but I was a handball player in my younger age Today I focus on body fitness and I play tennis with friends. I would love to play in the defense.

How did you hear about the event? 
I’m actually a photographer for social change and working in the space of women football since 2010. I support DISCOVER FOOTBALL and I joined Equal Playing Field since the beginning. Went up to Kilimanjaro to capture the highest and to Jordan to capture the lowest game. Since the game in Lyon takes place 5 days I not just wanted to sit behind the camera

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share? 
My goal for the event, I want to get a photo of each player participating in the world record game.

What is a random fact about you? 
When I’m not on the field capturing stories from women I’m working in one of the biggest IT companies as a press spokeswoman.  If you want to get an idea of my work have a look here: www.danaroesiger.com

 

Hemanta

Country?
Sydney, Australia. I have a Nepalese - Bhutanese background and been living in Australia for a decade. 

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?)
My sport of choice is definitely Football(soccer) and have been playing football for 10 years. Now I coach football to newly arrived young children in Australia  through Football United Organisation. 

How did you hear about the event?
Through Football United 

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share?
Play, Enjoy the game, meet young people from various countries and celebrate diversity 

What is a random fact about you?
I went to play football in South Africa Football Festival 2010 organised by Street football world and FIFA through Football United. I am a dance tutor and a Registered Nurse 

 

Goma

Country?
Australia

Your Sport of choice and Soccer experience (plus what position you might like to play?)
I like playing soccer, I’m an amateur player, I play for my community organisation in few competitions and some friendly matches. I usually play mid or striker, but I don’t really mind.

How did you hear about the event?
F
rom my sister Hemanta

Do you have a goal for the event that you would like to share?
I just want to meet people and have fun! Also, want to break the record.

What is a random fact about you?
I spent 1 hour trying to think but I couldn’t think of a random fact about me at all haha


Team Tennis for Kicks is still looking for 3 players to join them! If you’d like to meet and play with them, look for their team name when registering as an individual! They’re signed up for Friday, June 28 from 8am-12pm.

If you’re signing up as an individual, you can…

1) look for a team with open spaces when registering and join them

2) create your own team and leave it open for others to join

3) check out this Facebook Group to connect with others to form a team!

Stories From the Road || Palestine

Welcome to Stories From the Road, our latest blog series where we share highlights from the many camps we host around the world! These football camps deliver training in sport, empowerment and leadership in partnership with existing local teams and organizations that focus on sports development, education, health, community, and empowerment for girls and women. Check out some highlights from our latest camp below!

MARCH 9: PALESTINE

In the week surrounding International Women’s Day, we teamed up with V and V Advertising to host a football clinic in Palestine. Click the images below to see the gallery and check out even more photos on our Facebook Page.

Stay tuned for more stories from the road as we continue to host camps for #AnyGirlAnywhere and support partners and communities on their quest for opportunity, equality and respect. Nothing more, nothing less.

#AnyGirlAnywhere

Every year on March 8th, women everywhere are celebrated for their social, economic, cultural and political achievements during International Women’s Day. It is an annual reminder of how far women have come in the fight for gender parity and how long of a road still lies ahead of us.

In June, the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in France and elite female footballers will grace our TV screens for a short but sweet four weeks. But day in, day out, women and girls from every country, ethnicity, religion, and background, play, coach, referee and work in football - despite all the many barriers they face.

We believe that any girlanywhere has the right to opportunity, equality and respect.

Nothing more, nothing less. 

With this in mind, our 2019 campaign was born: Any Girl Anywhere

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We believe that:

  • Any girl anywhere should be able to play, without traveling too far, nor paying too much.

  • Any girl anywhere should be supported to be the best player, coach, referee, administrator or journalist she can be.

  • Any girl anywhere should access quality training facilities, kit, pitches, coaches and referees. She is not an afterthought.

  • Any girl anywhere should be able to imagine herself working in football with a seat at the table.

  • Any girl anywhere should feel valued and her coaches, teachers and the media should treat her with respect.

We are delighted to partner with incredible organisations and inspirational individuals around the world, all united by a desire to create a world where #AnyGirlAnywhere can play to the best of their abilities, free from harassment.

So what future do you want for #AnyGirlAnywhere?

Find us on TwitterInstagram and Facebook and join the conversation!