LAHORE: The International Cricket Council (ICC) and UNICEF on Friday launched a global partnership to empower women and girls and promote inclusion and gender equality through cricket. Initiatives to drive greater gender equity along with advocacy campaigns involving some of the world’s best players will form the basis of the partnership which aims to mobilise the power of cricket to drive positive social change. Later in the year, as part of this collaboration, UNICEF and the ICC will launch Criiio 4 Good, a cricket for development curriculum giving girls and boys the opportunity to have a fun first experience of the game whilst learning gender-based life-skills essential for gender equity. The Criiio 4 Good programme, which will be available free on the ICC and UNICEF websites, delivers an eight-week lesson plan on the fundamentals of batting, bowling and fielding. Whilst each lesson plan has a life-skill module attached to teach participants core life skills that will promote greater gender equity. These skills include leadership, problem-solving, self-esteem, negotiation, empathy, decision-making, teamwork and goal setting. The ICC will also use its global platform to drive greater awareness of the importance of empowering women and girls and gender equity, giving some of the world’s best players the opportunity to get involved in driving greater social change. Australia men’s T20I captain Aaron Finch is leading the call for every cricket fan to #BeAChampion. He said: “I am so proud, as the dad of a daughter, to #BeAChampion for girls and support the partnership between the ICC and UNICEF to promote gender equity through cricket. Cricket has more than one billion fans and we have a huge platform to empower women and girls through our sport. The Criiio 4 Good programme gives young girls and boys the chance to get active whilst learning life skills that are essential for gender equity. Every single cricket fan can join me and #BeAChampion and together we can harness cricket to build a better future.” The partnership will continue throughout the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 in South Africa and Proteas Captain Dané van Niekerk said: “What an amazing initiative by the ICC in collaboration with UNICEF, aimed at fostering an equal future for women and girls from all walks of life through the shared passion for the game of cricket. It’s an honour and a privilege to #BeAChampion for this worthy cause as cricket has played an immense role throughout my life and I truly believe that this sport has the power to affect real positive change in many young people’s lives, especially girls, whose place on the field of play cannot be disputed.” Speaking on the partnership, Geoff Allardice, ICC CEO, said: “Harnessing the power of cricket to build a better future is a central part of our global growth strategy. So, I am delighted to be continuing our partnership with UNICEF to empower women and girls through cricket. The Criiio 4 Good programme is a wonderful tool for anyone around the world to use to get young girls and boys active having fun with a bat and ball and also learn vital life-skills that will help shape a more gender equal world in the future.” Through this initiative ICC will use its global platforms, including its broadcast and digital channels to support UNICEF’s work and highlight girls around the world in gender equitable situations. All 16 competing nations will also hold Cricket 4 Good Coaching Clinics at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup venues during the tournament with up to 40 school children taking part in each one. The players will introduce the children to the Criiio 4 Good curriculum so as well as fun cricket drills, the participants will also learn more about gender equity and get to meet their cricketing heroes. The ICC events the partnership will be activated at include: ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Australia, Oct-Nov 2022 ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup, South Africa, Jan 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, South Africa, Feb 2023 ICC World Test Championship Final, England, June 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, India, Oct-Nov 2023.