On October 20 I will be traveling to Erbil, Iraq for a week to work with Free to Run, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting women and girls in conflict areas to promote their access to sports, empowering women to be part of the solution. Throughout the week, I will be working with Free to Run's participants, bringing exposure to the international female running community and learning from them the beauty of their country, Iraq.
The week will cumulate on October 26th, when 19 of Free to Run's female runners and I will participate in the Erbil Marathon weekend. These female runners come from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from IDPs from Mosul and Syrian refugees to host community members. Running this event is a groundbreaking personal milestone for them, uniting females across cultural, ethnic and religious lines and providing them with the tools to succeed in their everyday lives so that they can and will become a force for positive change.
Join me in my commitment to fundraise $2,000 to support Free to Run's programs in anticipation of the Erbil Marathon weekend. Your donation will support the continual empowerment of females in conflict zones through Free to Run's many programs including, but not limited to:
1. Run training programs for females age 15-24
2. Access to volunteer opportunities for females, enabling them to gain exposure to their communities
3. Life Skills through Sports curriculum, developed in collaboration with a UNICEF Education Specialist.
About Free to Run:
The ability to participate in physical fitness and outdoor adventure is related to important human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to health and freedom of movement. In fact, the ability to participate in sport and physical education is increasingly being recognized as a fundamental right in itself.
Unfortunately, in many areas of the world, there are few opportunities to participate in sports. Women and girls are especially restricted as a result of widespread discrimination and traditional beliefs about female roles. In countries like Iraq, harmful cultural and gender norms significantly limit the ability of women and girls to engage in activities outside the home. Particularly in post-conflict regions, sports are extremely limited or even nonexistent due to a lack of resources and insecurity.
There is an overwhelming need to develop opportunities for women and girls to become involved in sport and physical education. The benefits of these activities are too numerous to count. On an individual level, they can help to develop emotional and physical well-being and personal power. However, on a community, regional or national level, sport and physical activity programs can be used as a tool to promote gender equity, enhance children’s and women’s rights, and address harmful discriminatory practices.
Free to Run strongly believes in the power of sports to transform the lives of women and girls, and they are deeply committed to making that happen. Free to Run believes that there will never be a solution to conflict without the free and full participation of women as equals in society. Finding ways for women and girls to safely and boldly engage in outdoor activity allows them to regain public space and changes views about the roles that women can - and should - play in society. Free to Run works to engender understanding and buy-in for women through adventure sports, life skills development, and community service, working to empower women to be part of the solution.
Free to Run is a 501(c)(3) public charity registered in the state of New York. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law under IRC section 170.
Learn more about Free to Run at: