ELF Presents: Women in Sport

Of the many things keeping me busy recently,  there has been planning for the upcoming East London Fawcett event and campaign launch, ELF Presents: Women in Sport.  Here’s an article I wrote as a preview for the Hackney Citizen. Come along next Saturday if you can.

From Melanie Brown’s Fighting for Peace

To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, East London Fawcett Group is hosting an event on Sunday 25 November to highlight women in sport.

Celebrating both the achievements of those who have been successful in a male-dominated industry and highlighting the challenges faced by women in the sporting world, this will be the launch of an ongoing campaign for a level playing field in women’s sport.

The event will be held in the Body Studio on Rivington Street which is run by director and founder Margaret Pope, and hosts the girls-only boxing group, Girls in Gloves: a playful choice as the event aims to raise funds for a group of women boxers in Kabul.

Stylist Magazine’s Francesca Brown, who leads the publication’s Fair Game campaign, believes sport is “the last bastion of sexism”.

Brown will be speaking at the event along with Daily Mail sports journalist Laura Williamson, who points out just how striking the gender divide is across sport when she questions, “how come female athletes still only receive around 0.5 per cent of all sponsorship and two per cent of media coverage?”

It’s certainly true that sport still has an overwhelming male identity. If a woman is ‘sporty’ or has an ‘athletic’ body then she faces being seen as masculine.

In a world where we are supposed to have equality this is definitely a very limited perception.

Since Olympic fever swept the nation, gossip magazines and other parts of the media have been asking women if they ‘want abs like Jessica Ennis’: one small sign that our attitudes to sportswomen might be changing. The Olympics certainly seems to have given us plenty of new female role models to aspire to.

Williamson believes that the “true legacy” of the Olympic Games “could be to end the idea of ‘women’s sport’ in this country. There’s no such thing as ‘women’s sport’: it’s just sport played by women.”

East London Fawcett’s campaign is pitched during a landmark year for women’s sports. This year there were more British women taking part in the Olympics than ever before (262 in total).

These women also made up a higher proportion of the overall team than in any previous games (48%).

On an international level, London 2012 was the first time that women were able to participate in every sport and the first time that all competing countries had female athletes.

If there was ever a time to fight for gender equality in sport, it seems this is it. Brown comments: “It’s grassroots events like this which are slowly changing things for the better.”

The campaign launch includes guest speakers such as Jamaican athlete and triple-jumper, Trecia-Kaye Smith, journalists Laura Williamson and Francesca Brown, along with director of the Body Studio, Margaret Pope, and Founder of Girls in Gloves, Naomi Gibson.

There will also be a special screening of Fighting for Peace: Kabul’s Female Boxers, a photofilm by multimedia journalist, Melanie Brown.

East London Fawcett Women in Sport
Sunday 25 November 2012, 3-5pm.
Body Studio
89a Rivington Street
EC2A 3AY

Tickets: £5, concessions £2
To register, email: eastlondonfawcett@gmail.com

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