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The power of sport to empower women and girls

Words by Smiley Team

As you run, jump or move energetically, your body releases an unbeatable buzz of endorphins or happy hormones. It’s on this understanding that the charity, Women In Sport believes sport has the power to transform lives. The organisation hopes to harness this potential in order to overcome gender inequality. 

Shanika Flanore of Women In Sport tells Smiley News: “No one should be excluded from the joy, fulfilment and lifelong benefits that being active can provide.”

“Through sports, women and girls develop confidence, resilience and self-belief to feel strong, powerful, and happier and enable them to reach their full potential in every aspect of their lives,” she adds.

The broad-brush benefits of sport are proven by findings. One study found that 94% of women who hold senior executive positions in companies are former athletes. 

“Yet girls face numerous barriers to participation because of their gender from the moment they are born.,” says Shanika. 

By the time they reach adolescence, 43% of girls say they have lost the love of sport and are beginning to disengage from it. 

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“Gender stereotypes and institutional bias are holding women and girls back in life and sport,” she explains, then elaborates: “Imagine if we lived in a world where girls didn’t feel judged because of their body - crushing their self-confidence, they weren’t labelled a ‘tom boy’ for playing football or rugby and they were provided with numerous opportunities to participate and feel valued.”

The charity believes that an empowered society would involve far better education about women’s rights and health, better representation, and visibility in all areas of society. 

Shanika envisages: “They’d feel more empowered to take risks and are able to reach their full potential, without doubting their ability because that’s what they’ve been doing their whole life. No one is telling them they can’t do something because of their gender.”

To build a better understanding of how sport can empower women, the charity listens to thoughts, opinions, and views from women and girls on how to tackle the inequalities preventing so many of them from taking part in sport. 

Research conducted by the organisation examines the life stages at which this manifests - from primary, to teenage years, through to menopause and later life. 

“By truly understanding the barriers to participation we can campaign for change across the leisure, sport, and education sector so that all girls and women have the opportunity to participate in sport and they feel inspired to do so,” Shanika says.   

Inspired to act?

DONATE: To encourage more women and girls to gain confidence and life skills through sport, donate to Women In Sport.

JOIN: If you’re interested in supporting campaigns that use sport to tackle gender inequalities, get involved with Women In Sport.


This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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