international women's day ‘19


by Nancy

international women’s day inspired us to write about women in sport

Sport can often be seen as the domain of men (the country unwaveringly got behind the male Football World Cup teams last year, but will we see the same support for the Women’s World Cup tournament this summer?). Despite stigma, social pressures and a widespread lack of opportunities for women in sport, a new set of female role models, sportswomen and athletes are emerging – and we want to share and celebrate them this International Women’s Day ‘19.

women in football

After the FA lifted its fifty-year ban on women playing on Football League grounds (for fear that our precious wombs were to surely fall out), the Women’s England Team played their first international in 1972 (against Scotland in a game that saw England win 3-2). Since then, the women’s team has gone from strength to strength, winning the SheBelieves Cup earlier this week.

Unfortunately but probably unsurprisingly, the biggest gender pay gap in any industry is in football with the “combined pay of those playing in the top seven women’s football leagues equals that of a single male footballer, the Brazilian forward Neymar, who plays for the French club Paris St-Germain”. This is a scathing report of women’s football and sport in general, as we are told again and again that there is no desire for women’s sport so companies are unwilling to invest.

women in netball

One sport that has recently been thrust into the limelight is netball, with the England team beating Australia in a surprise victory in the final of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This was only the sixth time that they had ever beaten the Australians and the first time winning a gold medal in a major tournament. Over recent years, netball has established itself as “the UK’s number one female participation sport. Approximately 1.4 million women and girls play netball at some point in a typical season, according to England Netball”.

As the sport has grown, it has been able to encourage increasingly diverse participation. The innovation of netball has created a sport that is far more accessible than in its traditional form, with older women and women who are recovering from illness able to play ‘walking netball’ – a form that really slows down the pace and allows women to participate without having to put the stress on their bodies.

(As we are here to shout about women in sport, we thought we had better let you know that the 2019 Netball World Cup is being held in Liverpool this summer…).

a couple of short videos that are so darn inspiring, you absolutely have to give them a watch:

serena williams

The importance of encouraging and supporting women into sport and competition from a young age.

ramla ali

The importance of having role models in sports, especially sports that are dominated by men eg. boxing.

kelly roberts

The importance of taking part in sport and physical activity, even if you don’t feel “skinny or muscular” enough.

In recent years, we have slowly begun to see changes within women’s sport, with increased coverage on national television and increased engagement with young women and girls. The continued change in attitude towards women and girls in sport is extremely crucial. Women continue to do significantly less sport than men (sigh!) and by “age 13-15, only 8% of girls meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations for daily physical activity”. This is a pretty depressing reality but there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel.

In all areas of women’s sport, there is a slow recognition building of the hard work and passion that these women put into their respective activities. As a society, we should see the benefits of normalising women in sport. More coverage and support will show young women and girls that: female athletes are just as good as male ones; will provide them with positive, healthy role models; and will show them that there is opportunity to have a fantastic career in sport.

Let’s support our local and national women’s teams. Let’s free them from their catch-22 ('if no one wants to watch women’s sport there will be no coverage’ round to ‘no one is interested precisely because there is no coverage’ and back again). We would like to see sportswomen paid the same as their male counterparts and for female sports to be venerated and respected. 

Let’s hope 2019 brings new successes and wins for women in sport and physical activity!

happy international women’s day, everyone!

GuestThe Bridge