Cycling and Sports for Girls in Gaza

Girls running with joy during sports projectSince a very young age, 6 or so, I had a deep passion of riding a bike but I never knew how to. The first time I rode the bike was in the MECA project. The trainer held my hand and helped me through it. I loved that. When I ride, I feel like I’m flying and no one can stop me! — Inas, age 14

With funds from The Big Ride for Palestine, MECA organized a pilot sports project for more than 200 girls in Gaza. The project offered girls the chance to learn and practice different sports in a safe environment as well as educational workshops on mental and physical health, nutrition, early marriage and more.

No opportunities for physical activity

Successive Israeli attacks on Gaza have traumatized children and caused psychological problems. Children in Gaza show signs of severe psychological distress including bed-wetting, nightmares, aggression, and difficulty eating, sleeping or speaking. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world and there are few places for children to play, especially in the refugee camps. Social restrictions further impede girls' access to outdoor sports. Physical activity has been shown to improve mental and physical health.

Location: Gaza Strip, Palestine

The Gaza Strip is home to approximately 1.9 million people, including 1.3 million Palestine refugees. For the last decade, the socioeconomic situation in Gaza has been in steady decline due primarily to the blockade on land, air, and sea imposed by Israel since 2007. The blockade—or siege— continues to severely restrict the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza. The economy has been devastated, resulting in the impoverishment and de-development of a highly skilled and well-educated society. The average unemployment rate is well over 41 per cent – one of the highest in the world. Over half a million Palestine refugees in Gaza live in eight extremely overcrowded Palestine refugee camps. In July 2014, Israel began its third major attack on Gaza within seven years with intense Israeli aerial and navy bombardment. The scale of human loss, destruction, devastation and displacement was catastrophic. More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed, including over 500 children. Many more suffered physical and psychological injuries.

MECA Project Partners

Women's Affairs Technical Committee & UNRWA With generous support from the cyclists from The Big Ride for Palestine