In 2014 Amanda Cats-Baril and Anne McGuinness were working in Nepal in the humanitarian sector when they met and decided to found The WE United Project. Anne grew up in Kathmandu and returned home in 2011, the same year that Amanda moved to Nepal from New York. Both have always loved playing sports and felt passionate about expanding the opportunity to other women and girls.
The WE United Project is a women-led volunteer initiative founded on the belief that sport enables women and girls to develop social networks, physical strength, self-belief, and the confidence to fully participate in any sphere of life they choose.
“WE believe participation in sport changes how women view themselves and how others view women; therefore, contributing to a broader agenda of women’s empowerment and equality,” Amanda said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, supported by a grant from The Pollination Project, they launched WE Connect to develop an adaptive response engaging and inspiring allies and advocates for women’s empowerment through sport. Since March 2020, they have used their online platforms to highlight stories of women and girls from their own community; educate women and girls through online programming; and challenge gender norms and stereotypes by promoting images of strong, skillful women athletes; and sharing statistics about women in sports.
Every year, WE United expands its activities as well as the network of empowered women and girls it engages in Nepal and beyond. In addition to organizing friendly soccer games for women and girls of all ages and skill-levels, they host soccer tournaments and a league to provide opportunities for women and girls to compete at all levels!
In 2018 they also started the WE Coach program, a first step towards responding to a continued lack of female soccer coaches in Nepal. To date, 16 young women have gained valuable skills and knowledge related to coaching and women’s empowerment. Collectively, they have provided soccer training sessions for over 200+ girls in their local communities.
“We believe one win leads to another. When women and girls are provided with opportunities to develop skills, experiences and relationships through sport, they are empowered to be confident leaders on and off the field. WE envision bringing women together to pave the way forward for other women’s empowerment.”