Niñas Sin Miedo: Oberlin Athletes Partner with Colombian Organization to Empower Girls

Oberlin students have recently partnered with Niñas Sin Miedo (Fearless Girls), an NGO that works to empower girls through education, sports, and psychosocial support in Soacha, Colombia. In providing these programs, Niñas Sin Miedo hopes to prevent adolescent pregnancy and sexual violence, while also working to challenge traditional gender norms.

Many of Niñas Sin Miedo’s core values overlap with those of Stronger Together, Oberlin’s student organization that encourages solidarity among women and non-binary athletes. Recently, Stronger Together decided to partner with Niñas Sin Miedo to help them meet fundraising goals, which would allow the organization to grow and provide more resources for the community of Soacha.

The relationship between Niñas Sin Miedo and Stronger Together has grown out of the efforts of two of Oberlin’s athletes: College junior Nae McClain, who throws for the track and field team, and College sophomore and volleyball player Eliza Braverman. McClain and Braverman see the alliance between the two organizations as natural and are spearheading the fundraising efforts.

“[Stronger Together] relates to Niñas Sin Miedo because there are a lot of athletes [who] are a part of the organization who have used sports as a form of empowerment,” McClain said. “And that is something that Niñas Sin Miedo is trying to teach young girls in Colombia. Working with Stronger Together, we can see how sports have played an essential role in so many people’s lives who are not male-identifying.”

Niñas Sin Miedo is born out of the idea that physical activity is essential for young girls to form positive relationships with their bodies. For this reason, one of the group’s projects is a bike school that encourages self-esteem, self-care, and autonomy by teaching girls how to ride bicycles and building up their confidence in their ability to do so. Niñas Sin Miedo promotes the idea that by giving girls opportunities to claim ownership and understand the power of their bodies, they can help combat systemic oppression that results in violence and decreased opportunities for women.

Braverman sees Niñas Sin Miedo’s emphasis on movement as essential to its function as a source of empowerment.

“I think that using physical activity specifically to empower young girls is important because it serves as a very tangible representation of the strength that girls and women have, which is a quality that society frequently overlooks or negates in females,” she said. “I think it’s really important to make it clear to girls that they are powerful, autonomous, and deserving of respect, and I think that physical activity allows them to do that, while also emphasizing the importance of collaboration and solidarity.”

McClain explained that while physical activity may be essential to girls’ empowerment, the way in which society values men’s sports above all others’ is indicative of greater systems of oppression.

“Growing up, sports were, and still are, something that made me happy and allowed me to have fun” McClain said. “At the same time, I am still able to turn to sports as my escape from everything that’s happening around me. However, I think when it comes to sports, society only pays attention to men. And you see this time and time again where no matter how good a girl/woman or a women’s team may be in a sport, they are overshadowed … And this overshadowing is not just happening in sports; this is happening in people’s daily lives. So to me, empowerment through a sport is only one way to build up the girls’ confidence and belief in themselves and just one step in breaking any stereotypical notion that they may have about their capability.”

Niñas Sin Miedo knows that by investing in young girls through access to education and psychosocial support, they might help them break cycles of oppression and become leaders in their communities. You can help make this happen.

Your contribution would help Niñas Sin Miedo grow as an organization by meeting its immediate goals of creating a technology center. The center would provide the girls with access to modern educational resources. Niñas Sin Miedo would use funding to hire a psychologist who would provide support and treatment for victims of sexual violence.

If you are a member of a women’s varsity athletic team, you can support Stronger Together’s partnership with Niñas Sin Miedo by attending the initiative’s potluck at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 18. The Oberlin community is encouraged to come to the basketball games on Wednesday, Dec. 5, where there will be a raffle with a chance to win Slow Train gift cards. Keep an eye out for more upcoming events.

For all Oberlin students and community members, follow the Fearless Girls @ninassinmiedo on your social media accounts, and if you’re interested in learning more about Niñas Sin Miedo, reach out to the Oberlin team: Fundraising Event Coordinator Eliza Braverman ([email protected]); Fundraising Event Coordinator Naeisha McClain ([email protected]); Digital Media Manager Zoe Guiney ([email protected]); and Content Creator: Rachel Serna-Brown ([email protected] edu).