Read Time: 4-5 mins
Women and girls are often told that the sky is the limit but how much truth is in this? When there are many underlying socio- cultural barriers still to overcome in the sports industry. These issues include pay equality, visibility & coverage in the media, lack of team sport and the list goes on. Whilst there have been many efforts to reduce the gender gap within sports, the reality is women are under-represented.
However, there are great initiatives and campaigns championing female sports. Recently 60,000 people attended the Atletico Madrid V Barcelona women’s match, breaking a 99 year attendance record. We look at some initiatives closing in on the gender gap and empowering women.
The Telegraph launched “Girls, Inspired” an initiative closing the gender gap in schools on the 2nd of April 2019. Research by Sports England revealed an inequality between girls’ and boys’ sports participation. Only 8% of girls are meeting the chief medical officers’ recommended daily hours of activity.
Shockingly young girls are ostracised from playing certain sports. Schools are an important place for fostering the healthy development of young children. By reducing young girls opportunities the enjoyment for sports is diminished, only widening the gender gap.
The campaign has been backed by the likes of FIFA, Alison Oliver and Judy Murray. It is also calling on the government to “enshrine equality of opportunity to sport in its School Sport Action Plan”. To find out more about ‘Girls, Inspired’ click here.
Following on from the controversial “Dream Crazy” ad featuring Colin Kaepernick, Nike released “Dream Crazier”. The 90 second ad sends out a kick-ass female empowerment message all whilst challenging the gender gap that exists in sports.
It is a powerhouse of iconic female athletes all of whom have faced adversity, broken barriers and inspired women around the world to chase their dreams. The narration provided by Tennis Champion Serena Williams highlights the socio-cultural barriers women have to overcome to excel in sports.
Often we hear the word ‘crazy’ attached to women, whose dreams are ‘too ambitious’ or ‘when we’re too good there’s something wrong with us’. The ad completely switches and redefines the label “crazy” and invites women to “show them what crazy can do”.
‘US Girls’ initially launched in 2011 to increase sports participation across some of the nations disadvantaged communities. The Department of Health found young women in these communities needed support to stay active. Over 2 years the aim was for 30,000 young women to become more active in 50 areas.
The project surpassed this figure and 34,000 young women were involved. Since successful launch in 2011 the project has gone from strength to strength, launching in Wales and named “Sporting experience of the year” in 2017.
It just goes to show that an opportunity provided at the right time, place and style can have a long lasting effect on young women’s attitudes towards sport. It gives young women a space to explore and take part in sport without fear of judgement!
This post would not be complete without mentioning the This Girl Can campaign. Whether it’s the humour or how ridiculously relatable the ad is, it is sure to make you feel good! It is a refreshing campaign in a world full of slender toned athletes and ‘perfection’ that quite frankly is not attainable for the regular woman.
Sport England found that 40% of woman are not active enough. Inactivity is mostly down to women feeling embarrassed, intimidated or being judged. Hence the creation of ‘This Girl Can’. It redefines what exercise looks like and it all good to “jiggle”, “wiggle” and do your thing no matter what.
‘This Girl Can’ created a wave of participation and a groundbreaking 3 million women became more active. Now in its third phase and with over 660,000 people using the hashtag #thisgirlcan there is much more to come!
At MyLocalPitch representation and inclusion is a key part of our values and it’s important for sport to be accessible for all. Is there anyone you know that is breaking barriers in the sports world? Tag them on our social media @MyLocalPitch!
Image Credit: All images are copyright free and available from Pixabay.
BY - Maariyah Shaikh
16 April 2019