Photos: Women in sport. Credit: UN Women/Erick Dau - Photo: 2016

Scoring for Gender Equality Through Sport

UN Women News Feature

NEW YORK (IDN-INPS) – Sport has the power to transcend boundaries of sex, race, religion and nationality. It promotes health and wellness, improves self-esteem, and teaches leadership, team skills and perseverance.

Women in sport defy gender stereotypes, make inspiring role models, and show men and women as equals. Seeing is one step closer to being.

Women are more visible in sport now than ever before: Of a total of 997 athletes, only 22 women competed, for the first time, at the 1900 Games in Paris. The London 2012 Olympics was the first Games in which women competed in every sport of the Olympic programme. In Rio, approximately 4,700 women – 45 per cent of all athletes – will represent their countries in 306 events.

As many industries have increasingly recognized, women widen perspectives, bring in new ideas and innovations, and reach new audiences. However, there is still a long way to go before we will see full equality in the world of sport.

Girls and women across the world get fewer opportunities, less investment, training and safety when they play sport. When they make it as professional athletes, they meet the glass ceiling and a substantial pay gap.

The total payout for the last Women’s Soccer World Cup, for example, was $15 million, compared to $576 million for the last Men’s Soccer World Cup. Off the field, women are underrepresented in the leadership of sporting organizations, in sport clothing companies and marketers.

As of July 2016, 22 women are active International Olympic Committee (IOC) members (24.4 per cent) and four women (25 per cent) are members of the Executive Board.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in 2015 has set the roadmap to achieve gender equality by 2030. The Agenda explicitly recognizes sport as an important enabler for development and women’s empowerment.

In the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, hosted in Brazil from August 5 to 21, UN Women has spotlighted the remarkable achievements, persistent hurdles and unmatched potential of women and girls in sport.

UN Women at 2016 Rio Games

UN Women and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been partners since 2012. At the 2016 Rio Games, they will present ‘One Win Leads to Another’, an innovative joint programme to empower young women and girls through sport, at an event on August 6.

The programme builds the leadership skills of adolescent girls through quality sport training, creates safe spaces for girls and gives them tools and knowledge to break social barriers and access services if experiencing violence. It also equips the participants with basic economic skills.

The programme is being piloted, with additional support from the Swedish Postcode Lottery Sport Foundation and in partnership with Women Win, in the Olympic Villas located in disadvantaged areas of Rio de Janeiro.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has been invited to carry the Olympic Torch in Rio, and nominated to be part of a prestigious jury to award a prize during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games.

Thaiza Vitória da Silva, 15, and Adrielle Alexandre, 12, participants of the ‘One Win Leads to Another’ programme, will also carry the Olympic Torch.

Note: This story was replicated from the UN Women website. IDN-InDepthNews, a flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate Group, is an official partner of UN Women’s Step It Up Media Compact, an alliance of media organizations committed to playing an active role in advancing gender issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 July 2016]

Photos: Women in sport. Credit: UN Women/Erick Dau

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