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International Women’s Day: Women’s sport pushing for parity and societal change, Swoop

8 March 2016 5:00 AM
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International Women’s Day: Women’s sport pushing for parity and societal change, Swoop

Rugby Sevens: Australia's women have maintained their perfect record in the Sevens World Series after winning the Cup final in Sao Paulo.

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day is about celebrating the achievement of women, but fittingly this year, for sport anyway, there is also a call to continue the push for gender parity.

While in some spaces of society, this fight for parity may have dropped recently, the arena of sport.

In February, the Australian Sports Commission announced major sporting organisations must provide the same overseas travel standards for male and female athletes if they wanted to receive government funding.

This came after revelations that the Australian women’s basketball team, the Opals, who have been the more successful side at international level, flew to the London Olympics in economy while the men’s team, the Boomers, went business.

It garnered a lot of negative publicity, and rightly so. That publicity brought about change.

Last year, the Matildas — who have just qualified for the Rio Olympics having won their first four matches in the Asian qualifiers — had to go on strike to demand better pay.

Considering they reached the quarter final stage of the Women’s World Cup, an achievement the male team has never reached, that it came to a need to strike is quite baffling.

The women were earning a fraction of what the men were and as talks with Football Federation Australia dragged and eventually stagnated, they were forced to withdraw from a training camp to make their point clear.

That would not have been easy for them. A tour of the USA was cancelled as a result, something that would have been beneficial at a competitive level and provided them huge exposure playing in front of big crowds over there.

Women’s teams, sadly, are accustomed to committing their own time, money and energy to scale the heights of sport, and they do a damned good job of it.

These aren’t issues unique to sport — women experience them in all facets of life, but sport is a fantastic vehicle for highlighting common issues.

Sport and politics are often intertwined and change is actioned because of the power it has within communities.

But things are starting to change and the call from these teams and athletes for parity is growing louder and starting to be heard and their success is starting to do the talking as well.

A site dedicated to women and sport, offering fair coverage and tackling the issues, Swoop is about parity in the reporting of women’s sport.

Their achievements deserve to be heralded, but we believe they also deserve equal treatment — as those providing the coverage, why shouldn’t it be delivered in the same way as it is to the men?


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