Women Participation Increases

| May 19, 2015

London 2012 Olympics were historic because all participating countries had women athletes in their teams, United Nations regional communication manager for Arab States, Emad Karim, has said.

Speaking at the media workshop on women and sport on May 15 Karim said that alone was a good development adding that expectations were that numbers would increase at the Rio 2016 games.

He said different stakeholders had been fighting for gender equality since the dawn of time and the ongoing battle for equal work, equal pay and the never-ending debate around quota systems.

Sport, he said, was not the stand alone answer to that, but an essential part of the solution adding equality began in the home, in schools and on sports fields.

He said in Egypt rural communities, sport was considered appropriate for boys, and girls played traditional games up to the age of ten and once they reached the adolescence stage, their movement became much more restricted.

“Throughout the life of a girl we are sending signals of you cannot play sports, you cannot go to school, you cannot walk outside alone, you cannot, you cannot and you cannot. Why can she not,” he said.

He said a man would grow up and go to university or look for a job, while a woman would grow up knowing that her destiny was to continue her life of servitude.

“While he takes to the streets to call for democratic change, she is too scared to join because she knows that the recent rates of assault against women on the Tharir squares of the world continue to increase,” he said.

On media coverage on women and sport, he said only around one in four people heard or read about in the news were women.

In that regard, he said the media could play a significant role in either perpetuating or challenging social norms and behaviours that tolerated gender inequality.

Women’s sport, he said was stuck in a vicious circle and the media did not give enough attention, and consequently investors were reluctant to invest in women sports since they were of the view that it had smaller audiences.

He said it was important that investors realised the potential of sponsoring women’s sport, and encouraged the media to dedicate more airtime to the same sports enjoyed by millions when they were played by men.

“Inequality starts in the home and continuous throughout the life of a girl and woman, at times, the barriers seem so large and nearly impossible to overcome, so some of the unanswered questions are where do we start, how do we get around this, how do we change something that is such a big part of our culture, of our way of life, of how things have always been,” he said.

He therefore urged those in sport to do cross-cutting and increase rates of girls in education, political participation, women in the employment sector, and make the world a safer space for women and girls, in their homes, as well as on their way to school, in calling for social change.

Sports, he said played an important role and the situation as it was right now people were sending a signal that women’s involvement in sports was not as important as that of men, adding it was of paramount importance that a safe environment for girls who wanted to play football should be created as well.

Karim further argued that sport programmes could foster women’s self-esteem and enhance the empowerment process by challenging gender norms, reducing restrictions and offering girls and women greater mobility, access to public spaces, and more opportunities for their physical, intellectual and social development.

That, he said can be done by involving families, community leaders, and boys and men in gender education, changes to gender norms can benefit men and women alike.

“Sport can also provide girls and women with powerful role models, leadership skills and experience that they can transfer to other domains such as their family life, civic involvement, and aocacy,” he said.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Human Rights

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