Gender Empowerment through Sport: Some Considerations
This paper will explore the relationship between female sports participation and gender equality in a society. In much of the sport-for-development literature, there is an accepted understanding that women’s involvement in sport can be empowering for the individual, but also challenge and reform patriarchal gender norms. The International Platform on Sport and Development, for example, outlines how sport can improve women’s and girls’: health and well-being, self-esteem and self-empowerment, social inclusion and social integration and opportunities for leadership and achievement, as well as generally challenging and transforming gender norms.
However, these claims need to be explored more carefully. This paper argues that special consideration should be given to how girls and boys are treated and how they interact within sport-and-development programs (including issues of space, responsibilities, and coaches), age considerations (given high drop-out rates of girls in after puberty), expectations of the female participants, and moving beyond assuming “boys” and “girls” as categories of analysis without considering differences within each of those groups. Additionally, this paper will explore briefly how gender empowerment through
sport fits in with larger gender structures within a society.