Tackling gender inequality in sport
Gender inequality spreads throughout all areas of life, and evidently our choice of sport is no exception.
A survey of 2003 adults in the UK asked whether they thought a selection of sports were suitable for both men and women. The result? Tennis is the only major sport which the British public view as equally suitable for both men and women. The only one! 87% said that tennis is fair game for all, while just 7% said it was more suitable for men and 6% said the same for women.
The next most equally suitable is dance, which comes in at 51%, whilst only 41% think football is equally suitable (despite the great efforts of our brilliant women’s teams!) and 58% say it is more suitable for men. Cricket, netball, and rugby are the worst performers, earning 36%, 28%, and 26% respectively for their ‘equally suitable’ votes.
These results are sadly predictable, but that doesn’t mean that things have to stay this way. Sport is ultimately about health, fun, skill, and friendly competition, and there is no reason for gender to impact any of those elements. Why should being a girl mean that you can’t play rugby with your boy peers if you want to? No child should feel like they can’t play a game with their friends because it’s not appropriate.
Our projects around the world use sport to promote gender equality and better relationships between boys and girls. Sport can be inclusive and an excellent way to form new friendships. Our Champions of Change projects harness the almost universal popularity of football to teach children about respect and tolerance in countries where gangs, guns and domestic violence diminish the life chances of girls and boys as they grow up. The personal and social benefits of engaging in sport – any sport – should be open to all.
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