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Women, Gender and Sports in Africa symposium comes to Ohio University

ATHENS, Ohio (Feb. 23, 2006) -- Scholars and educators will gather to explore the roles of women and the issues of gender in sports in Africa at the Women, Gender and Sport in Africa symposium at Ohio University Feb. 24 and 25. Carol Bellamy, president and CEO of World Learning and president of the School of International Training, will deliver the opening address at 3 p.m. on Feb. 24 in Walter Hall room 135.

Since its inception in 2004, the Sports and Africa Symposium has sought to foster meaningful dialogue on sports and Africa among academics, practitioners, the media, nongovernmental organizations and the public. The first two conferences covered a range of topics across time and disciplines. The presentations have explored the relationships among sports and broader themes such as politics, culture, gender, age, cooperation, conflict, history, migration, mass media and development. The multidisciplinary approach has allowed scholars and practitioners to explore multiple dimensions of African sport.

Over the course of the 2005 workshop, attendees identified the issue of gender and sports in Africa as worthy of deeper examination. Therefore, the 2006 conference will focus on women, gender and sports. A series of interactive presentations will address issues including female athletes in Muslim societies, women's national teams, traditional female sports, masculinity, sport and gender and identity formation, sports as a microcosm of gender inequity and sports as a tool of female self-empowerment.

Organizers hope that the symposium will spark a continuing dialogue on the topic. They are planning a symposium that will be intellectually engaging and will serve as a source of inspiration for future scholarly and practical endeavors.

"Access to sports is not always easy for [African] women because of their obligations in the home," said Gerard Akindes, conference organizer and technology coordinator in the College of Health and Human Services at Ohio University. "We hope to attract more academic research and field work in the area of women and sports in African and connect people doing academic research with those doing work in the field to create a dynamic network."

The symposium will begin on Friday, Feb. 24, with a keynote address by Carol Bellamy in Walter Hall room 135. Bellamy served as director of the Peace Corps prior to her appointment as executive director of UNICEF in 1995. She was the first volunteer to have returned to direct the agency, which has some 6,500 volunteers in more than 90 countries. During her service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala from 1963 to 1965, Bellamy ran a school lunch program and produced a radio show on health and nutrition in Spanish, which was broadcast in rural areas. Prior to being named Peace Corps director, Bellamy spent 11 years on Wall Street as a lawyer and banker. Bellamy's career in the public sector includes serving for five years in the New York State Senate and serving as the first woman president of the New York City Council. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in psychology from Gettysburg College in 1963 and graduated from New York University School of Law in 1968. Bellamy is also a former fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

A screening of "The Leopards of Zanzibar," an episode of the National Geographic documentary series "Africa" that tells the story of a soccer team from the African island of Zanzibar, will be held at 6 p.m. Friday in Grover Center room W115. Saturday symposium sessions will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Grover Center room W115. The film "Mr. Foot," which takes a look at soccer in Cameroon, will be screened at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday, and the symposium will conclude Saturday with a roundtable discussion.

Women, Gender and Sport in Africa is sponsored by Ohio University's Institute for the African Child and the Sports Administration Program. Interested community members are welcome to attend workshop sessions. For more information, please contact workshop coordinator Gerard Akindes at (740) 597-3207 or view the schedule online at www.ohiou.edu/sportsafrica/womengender/.

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Media Contact: College of Health and Human Services Technology Coordinator Gerard Akindes, (740) 597-3207 or akindesg@ohio.edu, or Center for International Studies Assistant Director of Communication Jennifer Cochran, (740) 593-1842 or cochraj1@ohio.edu

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