On 23rd March, UNESCO organized an event as part of their Fit for Life campaign focusing on sport empowering gender equality. The Fit for Life campaign was launched in November 2021 to support the development of quality and inclusive sport policies with the aim of driving health and educational outcomes and empowering young people.people.
In her opening remarks, Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO Assistant Director-General, emphasized that sport has been and continues to be male dominated, from media coverage to participation, to leadership and funding opportunities. In some countries, 90% of girls are not sufficiently active, and these inequalities are not only unfair, but they also have public health consequences. She went on to say that gender inequalities in sport are profound and should be addressed. Dr Payoshni Mitra, CEO of the Global Observatory for Women, Sport, Physical Education and Physical Activity, added that tackling these issues is also a political story which will have concrete results. Anastasia Divinskaya, UN Women Country Representative, also emphasized the unique potential and capacity of the sport sector to raise awareness and tackle gender issues, but acknowledged that this will require multistakeholder cooperation.
Subsequently, the panel discussion highlighted the question of representation and the lack of female role models in sport. The fact that there is 60% less media coverage of women’s sports also contributes to the lack of women-empowering narrative in the sport sector. Indeed, the sport ecosystem has a strong role to play in fighting stereotypes. It can greatly contribute to educating younger generations so they are fully aware of their rights.
UNESCO aims to develop the evidence showing sport’s influence in helping to tackle inequalities and enable individuals to fulfil their full potential. Data plays an important role here, as the better the data available, the better we can shape policies. There will then be country action plans which will be developed, and all actors will be brought together so all perspectives and angles can be researched in order to raise awareness on the importance of investing in sport for girls.