Sport is a useful tool which can be used to equip women with leadership skills; confidence and self-esteem reduce marginalization and to destroy stereotypes. Women have been fighting for their rights and equality all throughout history; they were not even allowed to watch the Olympics. When women were allowed to participate in sports, they had to go through gender testing to make sure they were not men trying to cheat the system. Furthermore, the coverage of women’s sports failed to supervene upon coverage of dogs and horses until 1992. To this day, female athletes still get less attention and media coverage than their male counterparts. Although women have faced many challenges and difficulties throughout history in order to achieve gender equality, and now they have come closer to it and those advances cannot be ignored.
Power is usually defined as strength and domination in the western world and this statement has affected the sports, where men are given more importance and are highlighted to show their force and aggression (Theberge, N, 1987). Women need to participate in sports so that they can know about their physical strength and capacity. Such organizations should be established that can help women develop these qualities. The author, Nancy states that women are more creative and have more energy than men. According to Nancy, women have not taken over the sports yet, but the changes that have occurred, there is a possibility. Evolving from a particular part of the west, sports has been dominated or ruled by men (Saavedra, M. 2004). It is known that women and girls are familiar with physical labor and they have been participating in sports in their communities. But still, sports amplify and hold vital masculine qualities, and are male-dominated. According to Saavedra female participants in the world put themselves at risk because female involvement in sport is considered offensive that needs to be explained and prevented.
Sports have the ability to empower women and girls (Puri. L, 2016). Sports can be used as a source which gives power to the voices of women and breaks down gender perceptions. Women in sports prove that they are not fragile or powerless. Every time they clear an obstacle or kick a ball, they demonstrate physical strength, leadership skills, and strategic thinking. According to Lakshmi Puri, participation in sports leads to gender equality and helps women in building confidence and leadership skills.
‘She Wins Mexico’ an organization which uses soccer to give women and at-risk girls life skills. They boast their confidence and develop leadership qualities in them (Vales. C 2016). Fundación Vive Sano, a local organization in Oaxaca manages the life skills portion of the academy pro bono, while Cecilia handles the sports portion. The academy was opened in December 2015, from then 100 plus children have been registered and 40 percent of which are girls.
Women face many obstacles when they participate in sports, which stop them from winning the advantages that can be gained from playing sports and participating in physical activities (Huggins, A., & Randell, S. 2007, April). Women face discrimination and stereotyping all the time. Around the world, media is more interested in masculine sports that’s why female sports receive less media attention. The sports community is a perfect example of gender stereotyping which is accepted around the world. Women or girls can be empowered if we create sports opportunities for them, by promoting self-confidence, leadership, teamwork skills and a sense of achievement communities and societies can help empower women and girls on an individual level. Sport provides women a chance to prove themselves to challenge the concepts of femininity and masculinity, to challenge the tags which represent women as weak and inferior, and to show to the world that they are extremely capable of achieving their goals. To promote girls and women in sports is a great idea and a tool which can be used to create gender equality and can also be used to empower women.
The most successful point for women to prove their power occurred in 1999 in women’s soccer world cup final in which America defeated China. This event holds a great significance because on this day participation of women in sports was recognized by mainstream media (Cooky, C. 2010). The third wave of female athleticism has provided women the right to play the sport. That right was recognized during the second wave with the passage of Title IX. The changes that have been occurring from the second wave of today are that participation is no longer reserved for extremely talented or highly skilled girls or women, but is provided to every girl and women as a part of their lives (Heywood & Dworkin, 2003).
If you go to a library and look for the books on sports most definitely you will find books on men (Hargreaves, J. 2002). While watching a sports program on your television, almost 90 percent of the time you will see male performers rather than female performers. Despite the fact that women are participating in the sports today than ever before still much more attention and importance is given to the role of sports in the lives of men than of women.
Throughout history, sports and athletics have been limited to and related to men. Society has been “trained” to think about sports in terms of “genderedness”. Men are encouraged to take part in energetic, aggressive, competitive sports, while women are taught to participate in appealingly pleasing activities such as gymnastics, figure skating, and synchronized swimming. Dividing sports into masculine and feminine lines encourages women to accept physical limits that are placed on them. Due to lack of awareness, many women have been prevented to take part in sports. Sport and physical activity providers need to respect religious difference. This is especially important for Muslim women as they are often ignored by providers and discriminated against on the grounds of religion. It is difficult for Muslim women to take part in sports due to religious and cultural barriers. Islam should not be seen as a barrier which disallows its followers to participate in sports even girls. Islam guides its followers towards health and well-being. Also, girls and women with disabilities are like women without disabilities, so they can take part in sport at all levels. Assumptions and thoughts of people about a person with disabilities can make the sport seem even more inaccessible. The assumption that all disabled people use wheelchairs ignores the diversity within and between different impairment groups and their needs. The thought that by removing physical barriers participation will increase is also damaging; more noteworthy barriers are discriminatory attitudes, lack of training and lack of awareness. It’s important to have more girls and women with disabilities as role models
Verifiable, women and femininity have been characterized in connection and complexity to men and manliness. Sports and the games would have been tied with the manly area, and there has been a heritage of inclination against the female competitor. In a previous couple of decades, this pattern has been defiled and tested. The media does not simply report the news; they actually construct it by framing it. The media show females as unambiguous binary opposites that of men. Stereotyping female athletes as beautiful and feminine diverts attention from their physical strength to their looks and minimizes the threat they pose to man's leadership. There are many reasons for the marginalization of Muslim women in the world of sport. These include the rigid rules of modern sports on one hand and the interpretation of Islamic laws and restrictions because of cultural traditions on the other. Gender segregation in sports, i.e. “Women’s Games”, that relegates women to their “own” events remains a contentious issue. Also, Western “body politics” that emphasize fitness for women can and should be integrated into the lifestyle of women from Islamic countries.
- Theberge, N. (1987, January). Sport and women's empowerment. In Women's Studies International Forum (Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 387-393). Pergamon.
- Saavedra, M. (2004). “Gender and Sport,” in A Companion to Gender Studies, edited by P.Essed, A. Kobayashi and D. T. Goldberg. London: Blackwell Publishing
- Puri.L 2016 UN Women
- Vales.C 2016 Global Sports Monitoring Program
- Huggins, A., & Randell, S. (2007, April). The contribution of sports to gender equality and women’s empowerment. In A paper presented at the International Conference on Gender Equity on Sports for Social Change, Kigali. Retrieved March(Vol. 3, p. 2009).
- Cooky, C. (2010). Understanding popular culture images of “girl power!” and sport. Learning culture through sports: Perspectives on society and organized sports.
- Hargreaves, J. (2002). Sporting females: Critical issues in the history and sociology of women's sport. Routledge.