Sport for Generation Equality: advancing gender equality in and through sport

Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2020

In 2020, the most visionary agenda for the empowerment of women and girls—the Beijing Platform for Action (1995)—celebrates its 25th anniversary. In 1995 it was adopted by 189 member states and addresses 12 Critical Areas of Concern with strategic objectives identified for each of them. The Beijing Platform for Action is a guideline to removing the systematic barriers that hold women and girls back and, until now, remains as the most ambitious agenda for achieving gender equality.

The Generation Equality campaign, led by UN Women, is an invitation to bring in new partners and generations to embrace and revitalize the historic Beijing Platform for Action and to make gender equality a lived reality.

Sport is explicitly referenced in the Beijing Platform for Action. The sports ecosystem and its various stakeholders have a strong role to play, especially with recent momentum escalating across the sport sector in favor of gender equality.

In recent years, sport has demonstrated its enormous capacity to propel women and girls’ empowerment. It mobilizes the global community and speaks to youth. It unites across national barriers and cultural differences. It is a powerful tool to convey important messages in a positive and celebratory environment – often to mass audiences. In addition, it teaches women and girls the values of teamwork, self-reliance and resilience; has a multiplier effect on their health, education and leadership development; contributes to self-esteem, builds social connections, and challenges harmful gender norms.

Many actors in the sport ecosystem are making significant strides to advance gender equality. For example, organizations are developing their sport at the grassroots level for women and girls; implementing gender equality strategies; creating their safeguarding policies; increasing the participation of women in leadership and at all levels of the profession; increasing resource allocation for women’s sports; doing better and more media coverage; marketing free from gender bias and promoting women’s achievements.

However, until now, these initiatives have been working in relative isolation, leading to missed opportunities of learning and scaling the best practices. At the same time, in various contexts, the world of sport remains plagued by many of the same gender inequalities that we see more broadly in society – issues such as unequal pay, gender-based violence, a lack of targeted investment and the reproduction of negative stereotypes and social norms.

Led by UN Women, the Sport for Generation Equality Initiative is an invitation for the sports ecosystem to be part of a powerful multi-stakeholder coalition to make gender equality a lived reality in and through sport.

Consisting of governments, United Nations organizations, sport for development and peace organizations, civil society, sport federations, event organizers, leagues, teams, brands, marketers, media, and sport influencers, it multiplies impact for gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment by enabling learning from one another and accelerating efforts to:

  • Promote women’s leadership and gender equality in governance models
  • Prevent and respond to gender-based violence
  • Undertake to close the gap in investment in women’s sport and promote equal economic opportunities for women and girls
  • Promote women’s equal participation and bias free representation in media
  • Provide equal opportunities for girls in sports, physical activity and physical education

Sports for Generation Equality Initiative members are invited to make specific commitments, aligned under a shared vision, a common set of principles, and design action plans to accomplish them. They also commit to monitor and report progress.

The list of organizations that have signed on is growing, and includes the International Olympic Committee, Professional Squash Association, World Sailing Federation, Cricket Australia, Male Champions of Change in Sport, Ibero-American Sports Council, among others.

UN Women invites inquiries from across the sport ecosystem about membership in this rapidly growing movement. To register an inquiry about membership, please visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1qhSkkxCAeGof1FITfYC37w3vCJb2O1otv5t83otoJXA/edit

See the detailed set of Sport for Generation Equality Principles and the requirements to join