Sport rallies to end sexism and violence against women27 November 2014

Overthelastweekandforthenext15dayscampaignersworldwidearetakingastandtopromotegenderequityandeliminatetheviolationofwomen’srights,markingatthesametimethe UnitedNations(UN) InternationalDayfortheEliminationofViolenceagainstWomen(25November).

The world of sport is also joining the cause and through it promoting the empowerment of women and girls.

Yesterday, 26 November, the English pressure group Women in Football (WiF) announced a move to combat sexist abuse in football, on terraces and institutionally.

The campaigners, backed by the English Football Association, contacted all 92 English Premier and Football League clubs with recommendations on how clubs can tackle the problem, particularly on and around matchdays.

The advice to clubs included: briefing stewards and security staff as to what to look out for and how to deal with it; highlighting the importance of reporting sexist abuse and discrimination; publicising the reporting mechanisms by which complaints can be made; and featuring interviews or profiles of inspirational female employees in match day programmes to demonstrate a club’s commitment to equal opportunities for women.

“Women in Football believe that every female employee in the football industry has the right to go about their working lives without being targeted for discriminatory abuse or sexual harassment.” said a spokesperson for the WiF Board.

“WiF hope that by working with football authorities and clubs, we can bring about a greater understanding of the barriers that women in the industry routinely face.

“We urge all those involved to take these first steps towards acknowledging the experiences of their female employees, and adopting proactive measures to tackle the issue of sexism in the game.”

16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign
On 25 November, the UN awareness day against gender-based violence, the Brazilian player Marta Vieira da Silva announced her support to the UN campaign ‘16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence‘.

The initiative consists of a two week period of action which is calling on people across the world to support the cause and organise awareness-raising grassroots events. The campaign will come to an end on 10 December, the International Day for Human Rights Day.

In Brazil, the FIFA five times Player of the Year, along with the organisations Fundo Elas and Streetfootballworld Brazil, is running a campaign to empower women through football.

Over 16 days, 15 organisations across the country will host local activities to raise awareness of gender-based violence.

Marta, a long-standing supporter of actions seeking to promote women’s rights, said: “Figures have shown that every year, in Brazil, two million women are victims of domestic violence.”

Campaigns like this, which use football and its passion to fight this type of human rights violation are extremely important to bring about a change.”

Initiatives worldwide
Across the world fans and sporting organisations also highlighted the day.

In Australia, the Ministry for Social Services have announced a new funding scheme from which national sporting codes can support violence prevention activities for women and children.

In England, Bristol City Football Club announced their support to the Women’s Aid ‘Football United Against Domestic Violence‘ campaign.

Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill said: “Bristol City is a community club and we take the welfare of our supporters, players and staff very seriously.

“We have signed up to the campaign to send a clear message that domestic violence cannot be tolerated or accepted in any shape or form. Hopefully our club can play an important role in raising awareness by talking about an issue that is often hidden away behind closed doors.”

Numbers revealed two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner and more than a third of women will be sexually or physically abused in their lifetimes.

To mark the day, in Eastbourne, on the south coast of England, nearly 100 football fans pledged support to the campaign to eliminate gender-based violence and in Wales, Merthyr Tydfil Football Club organised a 5-a-side football tournament with the same purpose.

Support from FC Barcelona
Spanish giants FC Barcelona lent their support to a declaration for the elimination of violence against women distributed by the Secretary General for Sport for the Generalitat of Catalunya (The Catalan Regional Government).

The initiative was lead by the club’s work group Edelmira Calvetó, named after the first female member of FC Barcelona, which seeks to give voice to its female supporters and promote debates on the role of women in sport.

On the day, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described violence against women and girls is as a “global pandemic” that destroys lives, fractures communities and holds back development.

A ‘global pandemic’
On the day, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described violence against women and girls is as a “global pandemic” that destroys lives, fractures communities and holds back development.

“But violence against women and girls does not emerge from nowhere. It is simply the most extreme example of the political, financial, social and economic oppression of women and girls worldwide,” said the UN Secretary-General at an Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) event.

Violence against women is presented at every level society in the world, regardless of social class or culture, happening in peacetime and becoming worse during conflict, explained Ban Ki-moon.

Watch Marta’s campaign message: