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Sport policies don’t see gender

Only 8.9% are women in the steering bodies of the sports sector. Nearly 90% of sports awards go to men. Female coaches are few and far between. Female sports don’t get the same financial backing.

Skopje, 27 December 2019 (MIA) – All sport-related policies in North Macedonia are “blind” to gender. Only 8.9% are women in the steering bodies of the sports sector. Nearly 90% of sports awards go to men. Female coaches are few and far between. Female sports don’t get the same financial backing. The media doesn’t provide balanced reporting about male and female athletes alike, which leads to the fact that gender discrimination is omnipresent.

TAKT is an NGO formed by female athletes which fights against social and gender inequality through sports. Silvia Mitevska, its president, told MIA that they consider sport a platform through which they can promote all the values they believe in: equality, inclusion, tolerance, respect, and fair play.

Their activities promote the reasons behind why equality in sports is a good thing. They believe that it would benefit everybody, and it would especially be good for sport and its development in North Macedonia.

TAKT works on the affirmation of sports as a tool of empowerment of women and girls because, as Mitevska pointed out, they believe that sports is highly beneficial for them.

“We’ve seen it ourselves when we’re out doing field work what sport means, and how to use it to improve confidence, self-respect, resilience, self-discipline and team spirit, because collective sports teach you how to be a team player, which is advantageous in any future professional environment you may find yourself in. Apart from health benefits, sports have plenty of social benefits as well,” Mitevska said.

Citing data from the latest research conducted by the Ministry of Labor and Social Politics, pointing out that women in steering bodies of the sports sector are represented by only 8.9%, Mitevska concluded that these numbers feel like a punch to the gut.

“We work with sports federations and other kinds of sports organizations. When we want to change a policy, we set up a meeting, and these meetings are attended only by men in most cases,” Mitevska said.

They, she added, need to be aware that a great number of women should be involved in these policies. When we ask why there are no women in managerial positions, the answer is that there are no women who are willing to fill in those positions.

“It’s necessary to encourage women and train them to make their votes count when it comes to sport policies,” Mitevska stressed, saying that all sport-related policies are blind to gender.

There is a distinct lack of strategies which include gender equality.

“What we ask for is the will to work together towards changes. We have the expertise and knowledge, which we want not only governmental recognition for, but we also want to take the necessary steps.”

Mitevska noted that the country needs men who will stand for gender equality.

According to her, now is the time when gender equality is spoken about on a global scale, because gender discrimination in sports is a global phenomenon.

“It’ll be a key time in our country too, because a new Law on Sports is being drafted, as well as a new National Sports Strategy,” Mitevska said, adding:

“We are members of all governmental gender equality committees. Our demands have been presented to them, and we have their backing. The time when the drafting of the new Law on Sports and the new National Sports Strategy will begin will be crucial, because now we’ll see how much our demands will be fulfilled.”

In regards to the National Strategy, we suggested that we make the development and promotion of gender equality in sports a priority, which would contain all the specifics related to the increase of the number of girls who do recreational and professional sports, equal financial backing for female sports, equal media representation, the elimination of sexism, chauvinism etc.

As far as the Law on Sports goes, she said, we asked for the quotas for the managerial functions. If we want to see progress in this Law, we believe that there should be a big segment which would solely target female sports.

Mitevska spoke about sports awards as well, pointing out that nearly 90% of them are given to men.

“At every awards ceremony, whether it is on a national or federational level, 90% of awards are given to men. There are practically no women. This is a punch to the gut, because they either consider that there are no women who deserve any kind of reward, or they simply do nothing to motivate more women to participate.”

Regarding media coverage, Mitevska said it lacked balance.

“There should be gender equality training for journalists. We have a small number of female journalists, who probably do not have the freedom and power to decide what to write about.

There should be a lot of work involved with media, because it’s very important how you depict female sports. A Google search is enough to make it clear how the media reports about male sports, and how it does female sports,” she said.

Female athletes’ wardrobes and bodies are in the spotlight, their results not so much, Mitevska concluded, saying: “It’s very important to give equal representation to male and female sports, and it is crucial to present them with gender-sensitive language, and a realistic depiction of female athletes.”

Last week, TAKT hosted a gala event titled “An evening for women in sports”, which aimed to point out the quality and significance of female sports, to promote the efforts towards gender equality in sports, and to stimulate greater media support for active and successful women in sports.

This event celebrated the success of the athletes, and awards in 12 categories were given.

Simona Mitrovska

Translated by Dragana Knežević

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