Shaymaa is one of the the 2020 Courageous Use of Sport Award winners supported b…

Shaymaa is one of the the 2020 Courageous Use of Sport Award winners supported by @wwe. Before learning of her win, she shared her thoughts on being nominated:

“Sport is the secret of survival, the drive to achieve what I cannot do. It’s the light in the midst of the darkness of displacement and masculinity which I`ve been forced to challenge them. If I win this award, it has a special meaning and is an addition to my sports career. In reality, I am overwhelmed with happiness regardless of winning. The nomination brings feelings of pleasure, hope, and optimism. To me, the nomination is a symbol for all the other Iraqi girls who have gone through cruel condition.”

Originally from Northern Iraq and displaced to the Baharka internally displaced peope (IDP) camp in Erbil after fleeing ISIS, Shaymaa has persevered through extremely difficult circumstances to become an advocate for women’s rights and a community activist. Though faced with severe marginalization and the challenges of living in a camp, she maintains a positive attitude – driven by a desire to improve the lives of the children and young people around her, who have also been displaced and traumatized by extremism and conflict.

Shaymaa is a powerful advocate for children’s rights and education, but her passion is enabling girls and young women to participate in sports and other activities which demonstrate their ability and potential as leaders. Outside of @freetorunngo, she is active with several organizations where she volunteers with IDP children, works to unite people from different ethno-religious backgrounds, and organizes an annual book fair in Erbil amongst other things.

As Free to Run said about her: “Shaymaa is no ordinary coach, she actively problem solves with Free to Run staff to find ways to engage more women in girls in our programmes and has fast become the favorite coach to the participants.”


#sameteam #youngleaders #sportforsocialchange #girlempowerment #Iraq #idp #adventuresports #genderequality