Cairo, Egypt, 25th June 2011 – The Goethe-Institut announced today that it will host a photography exhibit by German photojournalist Claudia Wiens. The official opening of the exhibition, entitled “Shoe Size 37 – Women’s Football in Egypt, Palestine, Turkey and Germany”, will take place at 7pm onJune 25at the El Sawy Culture wheel. The exposition will highlight the struggle of women footballers in the Middle East and will be on display until July 5.
As Germany gears up to host the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup from June 26 to July 17,female athletes of the Middle East are looking to the event for inspiration. These dedicated young women must overcome obstacles particular to their countriesin addition to those typically faced byfemale athletes in other parts of the world.
Stereotypes, sexism, and a lack of material support have always stood between female footballers and their dreams. Middle Eastern women encounter the same challenges that German women faced since the ban on women playing football in Germany was lifted in 1970. Even after the ban was lifted, German women footballers were degraded by special handicaps andthe taunts of men. Over a century later, women’s football is the fastest growing sport in Germany.
Not to be outdone by their German counterparts, young women from Turkey, Egypt, and the Palestinian Territories are facing similar discouraging attitudes with enthusiasm and determination. Middle Eastern lady footballers also face a lack of material and financial support, often relying on volunteer coaches and second-rate facilities. In addition to these challenges, women footballers in Palestine are also impeded by the political situation. Players miss games after being stopped at checkpoints and athletes from Gaza are not allowed to travel to the West Bank. However, thanks to the vision and courage of these women,Turkey, Egypt and the Palestinian Territorieshaveallseen the establishment of national women’s football leagues.
“The road to their successes has been difficult,” says internationally acclaimed photojournalist Claudia Wiens.“These courageous young women struggle to obtain acceptance, appreciation, and material support. My work aims to show the determination, frustrations, victories, and joys of these inspiring young women.”
“It is a privilege to host the work of Ms. Wiens,” says Dr. Ingrid Koester, Head of Language Department and Regional Language Coordinator for North Africa and the Middle East, Goethe-Institut. “Just as it is the Goethe-Institut’s privilege to promote a spirit of athleticism and gender equality among the inspirational female athletes of Egypt, Turkey, and the Palestinian Territories.”
Claudia Wiens is a German photojournalist based in Istanbul and Cairo. Her expertise and knowledge from over 10 years of living in the region and her fluency in Arabic has allowed her to develop a style of intimacy and rare insight into Middle Eastern culture that has grown into a signature of her work.