International Women’s Day: closing the gender gap in sport07 March 2014


At the present time, sport continues to be an area in which gender equality still has barriers to overcome.

Sport governing bodies are mainly dominated by men, female coaches often earn less than their male counterparts, female athletes get less media coverage than their male peers, and girls are more likely than boys to be victims of sexual harassment in sport.

“It is clear that girls and women still face numerous barriers when it comes to participating in sport at all levels.” said Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for sport, ahead of the governing body conference on Gender Equality in sport last December.

“We have to ensure that women can practice sport in a safe environment, and that there are more opportunities for the voice of women to be heard in sport governing bodies,” she added.

Gender gap pay
In 2013, a UK report revealed that women working in culture, media and sport were 27.5% less paid then men, totalling £10,000 a year.

This year, the UK-based organisation Women in Sport carried out a survey, among the women in their network, that supports this theory.

The report, which analyses different aspects of women working in sport, revealed that 34.9% of the respondents felt they were not paid equally to men in their workplaces.

Also, 63.7% said football is less accommodating than other industries for working mothers and 57% said they had experienced sexism in the workplace.

In tennis, for instance, the debate around wage pay to male and female athletes has sparked controversy as male out earn women in tournaments.

In 2013, at the Cincinnati Open Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka were the winners of the men’s and women’s tournaments, respectively. The disparity between the winning prize saw the female athlete earn €113,400 less that the male.

“I suspect the sex pay gay in professional tennis is overlooked in large part because of the backstage nature of discrimination” said Colin Flake, one of the coauthors of the paper “Advantage men: The sex pay gap in professional tennis”, in an interview to Forbes.

“People see headlines like ‘Wimbledon Announces End to Gender Pay Gap’ and they assume there’s no longer an issue,” he noted.

Women in leadership positions
In 2013, the world’s football governing body FIFA appointed three women to its Executive Committee for the first time in its history.

With three women directors now at the FIFA executive table alongside the 24 male members, women’s representation stands at 11.1%.

However, only one of the three women is a full member, the other two have been co-opted for special tasks for a one-year period. This way, a more accurate figure for women’s representation is one out of 25, or 4%.

The milestone is undeniable but numbers across sport still reflect a gap of opportunities for women to occupy decision-making posts.

Also in 2013, the Australian National Rugby League club Canterbury Bulldogs appointed a woman to run the club, the only female CEO out of league’s 16 clubs.

With Raelene Castle as the first female CEO in the league’s last 15 years, women’s representation in this position became 6.3%.

Changing the culture of sport
As we look ahead on women’s day we are reminded that sport can be used as a means to further female empowerment and help close the gender gap across society.

Activities across the world include:


The municipality of Chajarí is organising a five-a-side football tournament on Sunday.

Over the weekend, other activities, including football, volley and taekwondo tournaments and a 7k run, will also be held in different cities across the country.


The Brazilian TV channel Rede Globo has announced that on 8 March the channel news, shows and sporting programmes will be presented and commentated exclusively by women.

On 9 March, a 6k women’s run will take place in the neighbourhood of Alto da XV in Curitiba.


The Haringey Council, in London, is organising a series of sporting and non-sporting, initiatives to celebrate the day, including a women only breeze cycling ride.

On Saturday in Manchester, the National Football Museum is organising an activity that will explore the women’s game. The museum´s gallery tours will focus on the history of women’s football in England and the FC United Women’s Team will be joining them for demonstrations and displays across the day.

The UK-based organisation, Coaching for Hope, has recently launched a booklet on women’s rights in South Africa that aims to be an educational tool that through football, raises awareness of their rights and how to be safe.

The Women’s Sports Network will join the celebrations to promote sportswomen around the globe under the themed initiative Women Inspiring Change through Sport’. They will also launch a  ‘Twitter-based’ ‘INSPIRE’ campaign asking sports fans to ‘Tweet’ a picture and resume of their ‘heroine’ – and then ‘cross tweet’ each other’s.


The organisation, Ladies First, will host a series of initiatives, today and tomorrow, in Paris, including initiation workshops in softball, baseball and cricket for women. 

International Paralympic Committee

In the frame of the international day, on Saturday, the IPC will announce the winner of the 2014 International Women’s Day Recognition Award, at a ceremony at the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games.


In Turin, the Sports Museum will mark the IWD with an exhibition entitled ‘Great Women in Sport’.


On Sunday, 9 March, the second women’s 6.5k run will be held in Mexico city under the theme, ‘Run safe, run for your rights’.


To celebrate International Women’s Day and raise awareness on women’s issues, the organisation Mama Cash, will play ping pong to symbolise the tables where decisions are made. The event will take place in Amsterdam, on 8 March, between 3 and 6pm.

Oceania Football Confederation (OFC)

The football governing body is organizing events to mark the day and promote gender equality in Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, New Zealand and New Caledonia.


Over the weekend, the Portuguese Federation of Football will stage an international seminar on women’s football and host the women’s football tournament Algarve Cup.


The city of Valencia will host the first 5k run to celebrate the IWD. The event will count with over 1,000 participants.

The sporting clubs of the region of Murcia, including Real Murcia, FC Cartagena, Ucam Murcia, ElPozo, y Ucam Voley, have pledged to collaborate in a local campaign  against gender violence.

These activities are by no means complete, if you would like us to list your IWD action send us an email at – tweet usfacebook us.

Use the hash tag #IWD2014 to share them on social media.