Achieving gender equity in sports
Gender parity has been a problem since the dawn of society. Numerous historical records show women encountering inequalities in their careers, education, homes, etc., and sports is not an exemption. The perceptions of dominance, physical strength, and power typically portrayed by men manifest in violence against women, exploitation, non-inclusion, and discrimination. This narrative needs to stop.
Sports has always been associated with men and their interests. This has alienated other genders who wish to participate in sports. There are several ways to encourage gender equity in the sporting world, and the following must be put into practice for a more inclusive future.
Work to reduce the investment/financing gap in women's sport
Insufficient finance is one of the issues many sports teams face. Men’s teams most times receive the majority of sponsorships and television deals.
Most companies are hesitant to support women's sports, and those that do view it as a moral obligation rather than an investment. Women's sports are developing and can reach greater levels with the appropriate financial assistance.
The economic gap can be closed by increasing funding for women's sports. Women can then have more options to participate in sports as a result.
Boost media exposure
Media representations of sports and athletes contribute to the construction of harmful gender stereotypes, as the media tends to represent women athletes as women first and athletes second.
The media is a powerful tool, if strategically engaged to address the gender disparity in sports. It is also a source of hidden power, affecting societies, influencing and reinforcing attitudes, beliefs, and practices, without realizing it.
Together, collaborating organizations and the media can use their power and voice, take action, and show leadership in increasing visibility for women in sports by addressing the inequality in sports and journalism.
The training and recruitment of female reporters into the sports industry can also contribute to promoting women's sports and addressing gender inequalities in sports.
Stop assuming that men are superior athletes
Another way to promote gender equity in sports is to stop assuming and portraying men as superior athletes. Men are often perceived to be stronger, better, and faster at sports than other genders due to the build of their body. This is not always true, as women have unique strengths and weaknesses. For example, they tend to be less likely to injure themselves and perform better than men in sports.
Create policies for gender equality
The gender equity goal needs to be pursued strategically by sports groups. Women who put in an equivalent amount of effort should be entitled to the same participation possibilities, financial support, pay, and perks as men.
Establish a whistleblower program
An easy-to-use, secure, and anonymous whistleblowing platform can capture discrimination and harassment complaints in sports organizations. Coming forward to expose unfair practices can be daunting, so maintaining the whistleblower’s security and privacy is essential.
Encourage female-led sports team
It is essential to support women's teams the same way as you would men's teams. This is a great strategy to encourage female athletes and advance gender equality in sports.
This can be done by paying women the same attention given to men's sports. You may also consider joining a club, going to games, and attending sports events for all genders as a strategy to promote gender equality.
To promote equity in sports, equal opportunities must be provided for all genders. Promoting gender equality in sports requires the participation of everyone. As an individual, be mindful of your words and actions, as you may inadvertently support gender inequality. When discussing gender equality on social media, exercise caution and use inclusive language. It is also important to try to find materials and information on how other people are promoting gender equity in sports.
As Nelson Mandela said, “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
Anna Mambula is the Programme Manager at FAME Foundation, a gender not-for-profit organization using sports as a tool to advocate for the SDGs.
Emma Abasiekong is the Assistant Project Officer at FAME Foundation.