Over the last 102 years International Women’s Day (IWD) has become an important celebration of the empowerment of women in all areas of society.
Emerging from the activities of labour movements at the turn of the twentieth century in North America and Europe, the first National Women’s Day was celebrated in 1909 in the US.
A year later in Copenhagen, the Socialist International established the Day’s international character and on 19 March 1911 the International Women’s Day was marked for the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.
In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March.
‘Lack of access to sport mirrors social inequality’
In a year in which women in the sporting world seem to be moving forward, an example would be FIFA’s first election of a woman for a 25th seat on the Executive Committee, the disparities in gender equity and female representation in leadership positions in sport are still an issue.
A report by SportAccord this week shows that among its members (Olympic and non-Olympic international sports federations) the percentage of women within decision making bodies has remained static at 13% since 2012, despite the creation of 71 new positions.
The under-representation of women in sport is not the only problem. The numbers of girls and women being offered the opportunity to play or attend a game of football, or access in sport in general, across the world varies widely. For many women across the globe the lack of equal access to participate in sport mirrors the lack of equal opportunities in society.
As we look ahead to the women’s day we are reminded that sport is an effective tool to promote education, inclusion, equality and female empowerment.
Some of the activities taking place across the world include:
In the province of Catamarca a series of activities will be held to commemorate the day between the 4th and 9th March, seeking to create a space for discussion and an exchange of opinions on issues of gender equality. The activities will promote sport as an activity of recreation and inclusion.
One day after International Women’s Day, SEPROJOVEN will host a special meeting on female leadership through football. The meeting will be attended by the former USA international footballers Amanda Cromwell and Tracy Noonan.
The London borough of Greenwich, which acted as a host for horse riding events during the 2012 Olympics, will organise a free women and girls only coaching sports activity on 9 March.
In east London, Walthamstow Leisure centre will host a day of walk-in sport for women only in Badminton, Tennis, Basketball and Kick-Boxing amongst many others. Everything is free.
The Avenir Sportif Club is organising the first all-female running race, La Saint Martinoise, on 9 March in Marigot, aiming to bring women together.
On 7 March, the Gay and Lesbian Association Berlin – Brandenburg along with football clubs from the German capital will develop a program in Berlin comprising of a screening of a documentary and a panel discussion on sexism in football.
FIFA recognised NGO Slum Soccer will celebrate the IWD with mix of on-field and off-field activities between March 7 and 9. The event features activities such as games on women’s empowerment and gender equality, and a women’s football tournament.
Women Win is hosting two sessions on power of sport in addressing gender-based violence and girls' rights at the UN’s 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women that will take place in New York from 4-15 March. The Dutch organisation will also launch its new global guidelines on addressing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights through sport programmes.
FC Chrzaszczyki in cooperation with FARE regional partner the NEVER AGAIN Association, will host a series of football-related activities for IWD in Warsaw.
WhizzKids United is hosting a football tournament for girls at its Health Academy to celebrate International Women’s Day.
Under the motto “through education we grow in an equal environment” the city of Alcobendas, near Madrid, will this weekend host sporting activities for women.
In San Pedro del Pinatar, Murcia, the celebrations of Womens Day started on Monday and will continue until 24 March with different activities, such as a panel discussion on the presence of women in the business world, an exhibition on women mathematicians and a sports programme entitled “Muévete por tí, muévete por ella”.
The city of Alguazas, Murcia, will also host a range of activities throughout the week with the emphasis of a football match to take place on Sunday to promote equality in sport.
United States of America
Sonoma State will host a series of lectures in which the topic of gender equity in sport will be discussed, as well as homophobia in sport.
Street Soccer USA will be hosting a roller skating party in Sacramento with proceeds going towards supporting the women’s team, the Lady Salamanders.