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Former Bougainville midfielder Benedicta Golu is using women’s love of soccer to promote peace in local communities.

The certified coach participated in training organised by UN Women on the promotion of peacebuilding, human rights, and gender issues. She told UN Women’s Aidah Nanyonjo that she discovered soccer provided a great platform to promote peace among women.

If you arrange a normal meeting hardly anyone turns up, but if you invite people to play soccer they turn out in strong numbers, she says. When women and girls come to the sessions, Benedicta, 37, uses the opportunity to discuss issues such as domestic and community violence and ways to manage and avoid it. She says soccer provides a positive outlet for young women and girls, and this can translate into community harmony more broadly.

Through her UN training, Benedicta is also, equipped to help couples in the community in dealing with conflict and reconciling their differences. She says it has also helped her to better manage misunderstandings in her own life. UN Women has been supporting peacebuilding in Bougainville since 2018 to help prepare the region for independence.