Jihan Sinjari has come a long way. With a lot of commitment, the 25-year-old has overcome many obstacles and achieved what other girls in her home country can only dream of: not only is she allowed to play football, but Jihan is also committed to giving girls and young women the opportunity to do so, too. That is why she was invited to take part in the "Female Edition" of the Future Leaders in Football (FLF) workshop.
The leadership workshop stands for diversity, inclusion and sustainability and was held for the first time on a face-to-face basis in Amman, Jordan. The course was exclusively targeting young women from the Middle East and North Africa who are already involved in football.
The workshop was jointly organized by the German Football Association (DFB) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH as part of the "Sport for Development" Programme and financially supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the UEFA Assist Programme and DFB’s main sponsor, Volkswagen.
Jihan Sinjari was born in 1996 in Sinjar, Iraq. She had to leave her home country at a young age and flee to Dohuk in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq. As a girl, she was not allowed to play football due to the cultural norms of how girls should behave. Undeterred by the cultural and societal constraints she faced in her home country, she continues to strive to empower women and girls through football. Her unswerving motivation to fight female gender stereotypes is deeply rooted in the vision to create a future where girls do not face the same obstacle she was confronted with when growing up. A future where women and girls are equal on and off the pitch. Jihan has a bachelor's degree in translation and has been working as an instructor for the GIZ in Dohuk since 2019, where she is responsible for planning and implementing projects under the GIZ Sport for Development Programme.
Her goal is to offer girls and young women the opportunity to play football and educate them through sport. Her coaching sessions cover topics such as gender equality, mental health, teamwork, team building, positive communication and self-confidence. "I want to help my community, and especially the women I work with to stand up for their rights. I want to be a role model and break through boundaries."
Sinjari wants to help women express their opinions freely and raise awareness among men. "We are not fighting against men, we are fighting for our rights. We want to have the same rights as them. We have to use our right. It is our right, not theirs. I will never give up and of course it is also important to raise awareness amongst men for justice."
The highlight for Jihan was the panel discussion with Princess Lara, Sawsan Qadoumi and Rana Husseini. All three are strong advocates for women's rights in Jordan. Husseini, for example, is a Jordanian journalist and human rights activist and has been heavily involved in women's football in Jordan for over 15 years. Despite many obstacles, she has managed to increase the budget of the women's national team by a tenfold. Jihan, as well as all the participants, were inspired by the valuable contributions and enthusiasm from the panel discussion.
"It was amazing for me to see them talk about their struggles and how committed they were to women's rights and leadership. These three strong women spoke very emotional words and touched me deeply. They are great leaders and role models for the whole country. This gives me hope to keep fighting and never give up."
On the last day of the workshop, DFB general secretary Heike Ullrich addressed the participants in a personal video message: "I hope that the last five days have helped improve your knowledge about diversity, integration and sustainability," Ullrich said. "Opportunities like this, meeting people from other countries, sharing your experiences, helps you to be open-minded in discussions. Use the network and the friendships you've made over the last five days."