Female Empowerment Within Sport: Four Icons to Enforce Post-Lockdown Changeby James P. Outreach & PR Executive
Like with many aspects of our society, the world of sport has historically assumed a ‘male default’. Women in sport have long stood by the side lines, waiting for their moment to come into play. Even the terms ‘women’s football’, ‘women’s athletics’, and ‘women’s — or sometimes ladies’ — tennis’, assume that there is something unusual, against the norm about a woman picking up a racket or running on to the pitch (we never hear it referred to as ‘men’s football’ after all).
In recent years however, women have worked tirelessly to change this perception and uproot the tired prejudices they have likely faced throughout their entire sporting career. In 2019, the funding was finally starting to reflect the talent of women in the sporting world, while media coverage and public interest was beginning to peak.
We saw undeniable evidence of this during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, in which crowds gathered across the country to cheer on England’s Lionesses against the unstoppable United States Women's National Soccer Team. Interest undeniably rocketed, largely due to long-awaited media coverage. Google search trends around the term ‘women’s football’ saw an unprecedented spike during June 2019, proving that, when given the airtime, the public are keen to engage with and support women in sports.
The world of women’s sport is, like the rest of the industry, currently undergoing a crisis. With Covid-19 bringing sport to a shuddering standstill this year, the momentum that was growing around women in sport last year is in danger of falling flat. What’s more, while men’s sport is looking to get back on track as soon as possible, women’s sport is facing a lengthier lockdown. Recent announcements have even confirmed that Brazil has withdrawn its tournament hosting bid for the Women’s World Cup in 2023. Commenting on this, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson said, “we can’t just rush to get men’s sport back and not think about women’s sport. There has to be a balance and diversity, otherwise some of the strides women have made could be lost.” In addition, Kelly Smith, a major trailblazer in women’s football here in the UK, argued that the women’s game had been “pushed aside” by an early end to the season.
Luckily, there are plenty of inspiring female sports stars who have taken it upon themselves to keep the momentum going. Unapologetically demanding our attention, these women have been raking in the trophies, speaking up about important issues, and inspiring fans everywhere over the past few years. most influential women in sport aren’t going anywhere. Here are the to watch in post-lockdown women’s sport:
At only 22, Osaka, an international tennis grand slam champion, has been named by Forbes as the highest-paid female athlete ever. Anyone who beats Serena Williams in the final of the US Open is sure to get our attention, and Osaka achieved this incredible feat at the age of 20. Since then, Osaka has won two slam titles in her career and has been ranked number one by the Women’s Tennis Association. Furthermore, she remains the only player of Haitian or Asian descent to hold the top ranking in singles, and her list of breath-taking achievements goes on.
Osaka moved from Japan to New York at the age of three but later gave up her US citizenship so that she could represent Japan in the Olympics — a choice which Japan requires its athletes to make before the age of 22. As well as taking the world by storm, Osaka has been involved with influential sportswear collaborations, while addressing matters of sexism and racism within the sports industry in Japan and internationally — two issues she has been subjected to during her young career. Like Rapinoe, Osaka cultivates a strong following in her online community (with 1.1 million Instagram followers), and uses her platform for social activism and the championing of women in sports.
Winner of six global awards (the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup All-Star Team, the 2019 Ballon d'Or , the 2019 The Best FIFA Women's Player, the 2019 FIFA FIFPro Women's World XI, the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Golden Ball, and the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Golden Boot) Rapinoe’s international success is undeniable, and on par with the golden boys at the top of the dizzying heights of men’s football rankings.
In addition to her global success, Rapinoe is hugely influential and has a devoted fan base (including her 2.2 million Instagram followers). She has used this platform for activism, regularly speaking out about the gender pay gap in the sports world, LGBTQ+ rights, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Created on Sep 8th 2020 02:25. Viewed 85 times.
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