Opinion

Pernilla Wiberg
Olympic Champion and World Championship medallist in alpine skiing, Champion for Peace

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15/05/2016 par Pernilla Wiberg

Game on for girls in sport

The movement to use sport as a catalyst for improving the lives of girls has been growing globally. Many efforts have been done at the international level to promote girl’s participation in sport; however, today more than ever, it is important to call for more NGO’s, sport clubs and athletes to use sport as a platform to achieve gender equality and inclusion.

For the last couple of decades a number of international organizations have done many efforts to protect women’s rights in their fight against gender inequality. Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. In the field of peace through sport various international bodies have recognized the importance of enhancing women’s participation in peace processes. For example, the Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly on 23 October 2015 recognizes the “imperative need to engage women and girls in the practice of sport for development and peace”.

On the global scale there has been a progress towards gender equality and women’s participation in sport comparing with 50 years ago. Nowadays it is fundamental to promote ways and means of ensuring the application of international conventions, goals and resolutions at the grassroots level, in collaboration with the organizations operating in the field of sport and peace.

So far, the general public has started to understand that girls and women have a crucial role to play in the construction of sustainable peace. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of breaking out the entrenched stereotypes linked with women and sport. Currently, there are many cultural and religious barriers impeding the participation of girls and women in and through sport. Therefore, I believe is necessary to have sport projects working closely with their parents. An influence of parents to their daughter’s participation in sport and physical activity is proved to be significant. Parents that understand the positive values of sport can help breaking the insidious process of stereotyping.

I consider that female athletes have a role to play promoting a strong message of peace to people around the global. Hence, they can serve as a bridge between the international conventions and resolutions and the general public. To do so, they can support and reinforce gender equity policies and practices amongst locals in field projects. For instance, female athletes can be good role models for girls by promoting physical activity and participation in sport, empowerment, and highlighting the importance of women’s rights and education.

In terms of NGO’s working in the field of peace and sport, it is necessary to create programs with a gender approach. The gender approach should be understood as a vision that focuses on girls and boys and not only women in isolation. Therefore, by engaging children in the game with a gender approach, the organizations will be able to educate girls and boys in gender equity and about their rights.

Lack of women at board level in sport bodies and NGO’s is also a missed opportunity for bringing gender equity at the grassroots level. Getting more women into senior positions ensures a great diversity of skills and fosters a culture of inclusion. Women in leadership

positions send a message of equal opportunities to the general public, and they serve as inspirational role models for women and girls.

Sport is a source of hope and inspiration for girls, as well as a platform for lasting social change and gender equity. Across the globe many grassroots organizations are using sport as a tool to improve the lives of girls and women. In addition, numerous modern-day conventions and resolutions have promoted gender equality and girls’ inclusion. I believe that the current challenge for athletes, NGO’s and sport institutions is to find their place implementing and fostering those international conventions, goals and resolutions among the general public.

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