The International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport has identified the most pressing local and global issues that impact gender equality in sports and physical activity into the five overall themes.
This theme encourages the re-framing of leadership to empower more women to become involved in leading change within the sport and recreation system.
Anyone looking at sport and recreation organisations around the globe would notice a serious lack of women at the table, particularly in decision-making positions. Perhaps a way of fixing the ‘system’ is to reframe how we see ‘the system’? The leader as an individual hero ‘in charge’ is a prevailing perception of leadership that may not suit how women want to lead.
- What if we could develop diverse and inclusive leadership which created a collective table for women to contribute in sport and recreation?
- What if leadership was seen not as an individual endeavour but as a collective effort?
- What if leadership was seen as something other than ‘the person out the front’?
- What if women and girls could influence through being their authentic selves, joining with others to be part of a collective table in sport and recreation?
For change to inspire change we need more women prepared to lead across the sport and recreation spectrum, catalysing change from grassroots to our board rooms. Through leading the creation of different systems and structures, sport and recreation may become more inviting for women.
In sport, social change can be viewed through multiple perspectives that are often provoked by social movements and experienced through programmes, initiatives, and interventions. For girls and women in sport, social change seeks to address issues and challenges by asking and answering questions such as:
- What role do identity (race, indigeneity, gender, ability, religion, nationality) and intersectional identity play in response to athlete advocacy and activism?
- How has the changing pace of technology influenced the participation and engagement of girls and women in sport?
- How have sport and recreational organisations responded to COVID-19, locally and globally?
- Are organisations fostering a sporting culture to value equity, diversity, and inclusion? And in what ways?
- In what ways have social movements like Black Lives Matter (BLM) or campaigns like #metoo influenced positive individual and organisational responses?
Active Lives – this theme is proudly supported by our partner, Sport New Zealand
We want all girls and women to enjoy active lives – to have access and opportunities for play, active recreation and sport. This theme will explore the barriers girls and women face – at an intrapersonal, interpersonal and systemic level – barriers related to indigeneity, human rights and integrity. It will offer practical options for change that will inspire change – technology, holistic approaches to health and wellbeing, self-determination of indigenous peoples, and proactive care for our environment and its longer-term sustainability.
Many girls and women however don’t enjoy the benefits of active lives. Traditional models of active recreation and sport delivery continue NOT to meet the needs of girls and women – and the intrapersonal (confidence), interpersonal and systemic barriers they face. We need to address issues of access to increase participation.
How can we activate the lives of girls and women?
For some, participation in play, active recreation and sport is unsafe with girls and women vulnerable to physical injury, body shaming, weight management, abuse.
How do we safeguard girls and women?
Sport in particular is highly gendered, and there are systems and structures that reinforce this. Making change requires that we address physical, psychosocial and environmental factors and deliberately change internal influencers and external drivers.
Our mission is ultimately about enabling women to excel in sport performances at the highest levels of elite competition both nationally and internationally. High performance sport is an interesting and sometimes secretive world. But if we are to advance women and girls globally in this area we will need to work together as a global community, share knowledge, be creative in our thinking and implementation and collaborate for the advancement of all.
These are some of the questions we need to address
- In relation to funding and investment in elite female sport, how could we be more innovative and effective?
- How can we ensure responsible use of performance data in elite sport?
- Why is gender equal pay so hard to achieve in elite sport?
- What can be done to ensure athletes – regardless of their gender identity – can engage in safe and fair competition?
- What strategies and policies can be introduced to prevent female athletes’ suffering from varying forms of emotional abuse which give rise to body weight and image issues.
Visibility and Voice – this theme is proudly supported by our partner, Spark Sport
The pace of change when it comes to media coverage of women’s sport has been glacial. A predominance of male sports editors, decision-makers and journalists in newsrooms contributes to grim numbers – in NZ women make up 15% of coverage, in the US the number is just 5% and in Australia 7%.
We know major events are drivers for change, and there is direct link between advertising and sponsorship money increasing the visibility of women’s sport. Fans keep telling us they want more, so by examining the way in which we view and promote women’s sport and female athletes through a variety of lenses, we are better placed to give the fans what they want.
By increasing the extent to which women and girls are seen and heard in sport, we increase the extent to which they are valued in life.
- What are the barriers to women working in sports media? And what are the post-career opportunities for athletes to work in the media?
- How can event organisers improve visibility through policies, scheduling etc?
- If you have to see it to be it, are indigenous women doubly disadvantaged?
- What is the impact of social media and media on a person’s self-worth?