There is little doubt that women’s sport has made huge strides in the past few years.
The number of professional contracts available to women has increased dramatically and while these are still not on par with the offerings in men’s sport, significant inroads have been made and increased funding and exposure for domestic and international leagues has led to more opportunities for women on and off the field.
Despite this, mass inequality still exists and there is much more to be done to redress the balance and provide opportunities for women to flourish within the sporting world.
The issues that women face in sport come from a history of marginalisation, from deeply ingrained societal attitudes and from reduced opportunities to participate on and off the field.
These attitudes towards women exist across society, but in sport they are particularly prominent.
It is with all these factors in mind that UNSW began developing Active Women: UNSW 2025 Women’s Sport and Active Recreation Strategy, which launched on Wednesday.
This strategy sets out key goals which fall within four pillars: participation; investment and infrastructure; marketing and promotion; and leadership and governance.
Key to the delivery of the strategy is the broadening of the definition of sport to encompass all forms of active recreation.
Surveys conducted by UNSW Sport and Arc Sport found that women at UNSW who participate in sport and active recreation are most engaged with outdoor recreation, going to the gym and casual exercise with friends.
The participation pillar of the strategy aims to offer more frequent and varied opportunities for women to stay active on campus, with a goal of doubling the number of women participating in sport and recreation by 2025.
Other key goals for the strategy include the securing of major commercial partners, ensuring sporting and wellness facilities on campus are female-friendly, increasing marketing and promotional coverage of women – particularly those from underrepresented communities – across UNSW Sport channels and creating greater access to leadership roles for women.
At the launch of the strategy on Wednesday, guests had the opportunity to hear from a panel of women who understand the impacts this strategy will have.
From former Australian cricket captain and UNSW alumna Alex Blackwell, to dual Olympian and UNSW staff member Hannah Davis, recent graduate and former UNSW Taekwondo president Takwa Tissaoui and current AGSM student and member of the UNSW-Wests Killer Whales water polo team Allie Loomis, these women articulated the barriers in place for women in sport and how staying active has positively affected their lives.
UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs is excited about the launch of the new strategy and the opportunities it offers to create a more inclusive community.
“The timing of the Active Women Strategy could not be better and is in keeping with UNSW’s mission to not only transform lives through excellence in research and education, but through a commitment to advancing a just society,” he said.
“We can all play a part in delivering a more equal future and I am delighted to support this strategy to champion the wonderful culture of equity, diversity and inclusion we have at UNSW.”
Work on the Active Women Strategy will begin immediately with the first steps being the development of measurement tools to ensure accurate data is captured throughout the life of strategy.