Dr. Heather Cameron

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 2010
Box Girls International

Citation

This profile was prepared when Dr. Heather Cameron was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Boxing is central to Heather’s strategy to empower young women, especially those living in marginalized communities. Research has shown that sports in general, and boxing in particular, can play a key role in improving self-confidence and personal safety, aiding stress reduction, and contributing to the growth of an individual’s self-discipline throughout puberty, as well as other times of personal development. These benefits are much needed, especially among some segments of Germany’s immigrant communities, where girls and women’s roles are limited; Heather uses sports as a vehicle to shift self-perceptions and challenge disempowering societal stereotypes. Among an important constituency of her target group, boxing is not perceived of as a sport or recreational activity, but as a self-defense tool, allowing socially conservative communities to approve of its introduction in an all-girl environment. Through partnerships with local organizations, girls participating in Boxgirls’ programs also participate in other developmental programs addressing key life skills.

Heather aims to achieve three levels of transformation through Boxgirls International: 1) On a personal level, she knows that boxing will engage and empower girls in a physical activity in which they will excel, improving their health and building their confidence and aspirations 2) In combination with boxing, Heather aims for a broader transformation in which girls grow their leadership skills and are empowered to impact their communities; using skills-based curricula and outreach programs, ranging from personal safety presentations at schools for young girls and women to pursuing entrepreneurial activities through partner organizations 3) At the societal level, Heather hopes Boxgirls International programs and partnerships with citizen organizations (COs), governmental institutions, national Olympic programs, and so forth, will help to change the pervasive view of girls and sport by provoking discussion around the empowerment of girls.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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