2014 – From Sydney to Helsinki Progress Report

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Women and Sport
From Sydney to Helsinki


Executive Summary

This progress report marks the 20th anniversary of the Brighton Conference, and aims to be a source of inspiration for policy and decision-makers who are working to advance the status of, and opportunities for, girls and women in sport. The report contains the summary of a content analysis of each of the individual progress reports from 1994 – 2010, along with a cumulative analysis of the progress made world-wide in women and sport organisations between the years 1994 – 2010.

The rest of the report contains the results from a study covering the global progress made within the women and sport movement from 2006 – 2014. This study is based around the principles of the Brighton Declaration, and data was gathered by the use of Questback, an online tool for the administration of questionnaires, which was followed by gathering case studies through e-mails. The material was provided by 326 organisations which had either signed the Brighton Declaration and/or subscribed to the IWG’s virtual network: ‘Catalyst – subscribers’.

Twenty two questions were asked to measure the implementation of the different principles in the Brighton Declaration. The organisations were asked first if they had taken any action in a particular area, and if so, a follow-up question was provided in which they were asked to describe the actions that they had taken. The participating organisations were also divided according to which continents (International, Africa, Asia, Europe, Americas, Oceania) they belong, and what kind of organisation they represented (Women and Sport Organisations, International & Continental Sport Organisations, NOCs, NPCs & National Confederations of Sports, National & Regional Sport Federations, Governmental Organisations, Universities & Academic Organisations).

The results revealed that the organisations that had been most active in promoting gender equality for women in sport represent different types of organisations on different continents. With respect to the continents we find that organisations in Asia and Africa have been most active in implementing the Brighton Declaration and Europe the least. Africa and Asia had the highest proportion of Women and Sport Organisations, and these types of organisations also have the highest average in actions taken to promote gender equality in sports.

The high scores from Africa and Asia may be explained by the fact that on these continents the work for women and sport is often organised in women’s sport committees. For 9 of the 22 areas we investigated, more than 50% of the organisations provided a positive answer, but for the other 13 types of actions less than Executive summary 5 50% have been active in implementing some of the principles laid down in the Brighton Declaration. Most organisations have taken action to increase the number of physically active women, exercising women, and/or female athletes. The next highest number of actions are related to: the inclusion of gender equality issues in educational and/or training material/programmes, actions taken to increase the public’s knowledge and understanding about women’s sport and/or exercise, support for female elite-level athletes and ensuring that the opportunities for girls (<18 years) are equal to those for boys to develop physical fitness and/or basic sport skills. The areas where fewest actions have been taken are in relation to: child-care provisions; support to retiring female athletes; to girl’s and women’s safety, particularly the prevention of eating disorders and the protection against sport and/or exercise injuries; to the development of policies and programmes to recruit/retain/enhance female sports leaders, particularly coaches and referees, game officials, judges, and/or umpires.

Looking back over the last 20 years we can conclude that a lot of progress has been made concerning women and sport. It is very difficult to measure the direct impact of the Brighton Declaration on all the programmes and activities that have taken place over the last 8 years, but there is no doubt that it has inspired many organisations.

Based on the results it is recommended that the following topics/areas are given priority in the years to come:

  1. The development of child–care provision for people involved in sport in different roles and at different arenas
  2. The development of programmes to support the retirement of female elite level athletes
  3. The development of preventive measures which ensure that sport and exercise is a safe arena for girls and women, particular in relation to a
    1. Prevention of sexual harassment and abuse
    2. Prevention of eating disorders
    3. Prevention of injuries
  4. Emphasising increased female leadership in different sporting roles such as
    1. Refereeing
    2. Coaching
    3. Decision-making

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