Leah Williamson pre-match Arsenal Manchester UnitedGetty Images

Arsenal and England star Leah Williamson to address United Nations and call for more work to 'level the playing field'

  • Williamson to address UN summit
  • Will use the world stage to address gender stereotypes
  • England captain will wants level playing field for girls

WHAT HAPPENED? The England international is set to join world leaders at the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) Summit which will be held in New York. Williamson paid a visit to Za’atari in Jordan which houses the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world and along with The Arsenal Foundation and Save the Children, she witnessed how football could be a life-changer to the underprivileged.

WHAT THEY SAID: “Sport has the power to change lives – but it’s still not a level playing field for so many girls around the world," she said.

"Football definitely changed my life. After visiting the Za’atari refugee camp, I’ve seen first-hand how our football programme, Coaching for Life, is helping the girls in the camp cope better with the challenges they face.

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“Almost all women footballers will have a story about the challenges they faced taking up the game, but at least in countries like England and America we had a chance. In some countries, girls have social restrictions that limit their access to playing football and that has to change. Through The Arsenal Foundation’s work with Save the Children, we’ve shown in Za’atari how we can empower girls through sport, and how boys can play an active role with us on that journey.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Williamson spent time with a 16-year-old girl from Syria who had spent a decade in the camp after fleeing the war-torn nation. She is part of the Coaching for Life programme and insisted that being a part of the curriculum helped to "strengthen my personality". Williamson revealed that the next target is moving towards a "gender-transformative" approach which would involve active participation from men and boys.

“At first, fathers in the camp were reluctant for their daughters to get involved – but then relented," she said.

"They saw how their daughters became empowered. We are now moving towards a gender-transformative approach in the camp – and this is key all around the world as well – to address deep-rooted stereotypes. We need to involve men and boys in the conversation about positive masculinity and the barriers women and girls face," she added.


Leah Williamson England 2023Getty

WHAT NEXT? Williamson is currently on a recovery programme after she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament which forced her to miss the Women's World Cup.