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Pulse of Change

My community is the sports sector; this includes sports and recreation for both elite competition and fun purposes. This is my community because I recognize that there is a chance for women and girls to develop themselves in areas of health, education and civic awareness through their participation in sport for development programmes.

However, my community poses the challenge of limited participation of girls and women in sport because most of the sport organizations and activities are arranged in a way that is not sensitive to the needs of women and girls. For example, the coverage of women in sport by the media is very low, the instances of harassment of girls and women in sport goes unreported and unacknowledged by the community members. Other challenges include the limited resource allocation to women’s sport programmes and lack of confidence and opportunity for women to be involved in high level leadership of sport.

Our work to address the above challenges is through advocacy: in view of media coverage, we are running a campaign called ‘Sheroes: Female Role Models in Sport’ we are profiling women in sport through media publications, awareness meetings and photography to draw public and media attention to their existence and to challenge the perception that only males in sport are successful or important.

Addressing violence against women, my organisation NOWSPAR in partnership with Women Win and NIF are developing a code of conduct for the global sport for development community to provide guidelines on the systems and structures and norms to be developed to prevent and intervene in violence against women in sport within their specific situations.

Through lobbying for policy makers we are advocating for the change in the structures of sport organizations to ensure implementation of quota systems, capacity development of organizations to change their programmes to be considerate of women and girls needs- for example the time that committees meet, usually after 5 pm, challenges women’s domestic schedules and in many cases women have resigned from committees as their priority is their domestic responsibilities. A role that in many cases may have negative consequences if they challenge it.

Some of the rhetoric around the above challenges from decision makers as well members of the sport community has been relating to media coverage: sentiments such as ‘no one likes to watch women’s sport- it’s boring’ or regarding leadership ‘sport is a man’s place’ or in terms of harassment- the question ‘who has complained?’

Advocacy is really about communication, reflection and negotiation: I see Pulse Wire as an opportunity to mobilize a global view on the reality of women in sport, a place for reflection and realization of the current marginalization. Through dialogue we can reach agreement on what we need to do and that we can all contribute to achieving change in our specific areas of influence and together in others to promote change. The Pulse of Change can be given momentum through this platform and it can reach and impact someone and perhaps a whole community.

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