5 July 2019

Lenka Martináková joins us in Lyon from INEX - Sdružení dobrovolných aktivit in the Czech Republic. She sat down to talk with us about how Festival 19 can be used as an opportunity to create a more equal world by working through stereotypes and by getting men on the team. Read the full Festival 19 pitch-side interview below. 


How would you rate your community in terms of 1-10 in gender equality?


Where I live, I would say the score is about an eight. But in the community that I work with, where there is a population of Roma people, it can be like a five because there, the roles of women, are very traditional. For instance, when they’re around the ages of 17-18, some will already be pregnant and start families, so a lot of opportunities are very minimized for them as they have to take care of their children. So, the role of women is still very traditional.


How do we improve that score to become a 10?


It’s about educating them or training them. And, on another point, an aspect of it is about the culture. I don’t know if they want to change the status quo or if they are satisfied with this role division, but in my opinion, they should have a fair opportunity to be educated, go to university, and have job opportunities because women are clever and talented, and they should have more space to express themselves.


Do you believe that the young women you work with want this opportunity or is the culture very much ingrained in them?


I feel like the culture is very much ingrained in them because they live in a very closed community and they’re not integrating much with the majority, so they’re living in a community where its normal to live this life. They don't have many options to get out of this bubble to see that there are so many more options out there for women.


What has been your highlight at Festival 19 so far?


If I had to pick a highlight so far, I would say when we played leadership games and took part in activities regarding stereotypes. At first, there were many football exercises integrated with a meaningful message. As the activities progressed, by the end, many ideas emerged about the sport and what impact it has on communities. It was valuable to see first-hand how we are all here from different cultures around the world and tackling a diverse set of issues in varying countries. From that, I can definitely see how lucky I am to be from the country I come from.


From the leadership exercise on stereotypes, was there an idea that stood out for you?


One girl from Ecuador said there was a stereotype about how women from her country cry often (although she doesn’t do it herself), but really, this stereotype originated as a mechanism for women to be visible and heard by men. I found this really interesting to learn about and it really stuck in my mind.


If you could choose a team of five people to help push this goal, to create a more equal world, who would you pick to be on your team?


My best friend Lucy because she’s very open-minded and very focussed on personal development, she has great ideas about equality. Secondly, I’d choose Pink, the singer, because she’s fighting for women’s empowerment and her songs are very inspiring. And I can only come up with three right now, so for my last, I would choose my boss from Football for Development, Ansley Hofmann, because he has a great mindset in leading us towards gender equality and I feel he has a firm understanding of the cause. I think it’s important to have men’s voices in this fight because, for me, gender equality isn’t just about one gender’s empowerment — it needs to be balanced.



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