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Free to Run: the organisation that uses physical activity to develop female leaders in regions of conflict
  1. Montana Rose Saffron Jackson,
  2. Shiv Datta
  1. General Internal Medicine, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Montana Rose Saffron Jackson, General Internal Medicine, Barts Health NHS Trust, London E1 1FR, UK; montana.jackson1{at}

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Physical activity (PA) participation is often impossible in regions of conflict due to lack of resources and significant risks to personal safety. Women and girls are disproportionately affected and are among the most vulnerable to human rights violations.1 Additional challenges faced by women include internal displacement, complex physical or psychological trauma, harassment, gender-based violence, lack of education, lack of social mobility, poor health and reduced life expectancy.1 2 Free to Run (FTR) is a non-governmental organisation that uses PA to transform the lives of disadvantaged young women and girls aged between 15 and 25 years.3 FTR has supported over 3000 women and girls affected by conflict.3

The origins of FTR

The following information was obtained from personal communication with FTR staff (J Irons, Personal communication, 2023). FTR was founded in 2014 by human rights lawyer and ultramarathon runner Stephanie Case. It was launched in Afghanistan, where Stephanie used her ultrarunning career to fundraise for a local women’s shelter. Remarkably, the women at the shelter were more interested in running than the money that was raised. FTR’s work …

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  • Contributors MRSJ and SD contributed equally to this paper as joint first authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.