Improving equality in sport in Europe, one step at a time

Improving equality in sport in Europe, one step at a time

The Equality Within Sport workshops were held on 13-14-15 December 2021, in Rome, Italy and organised by the EQUIP project partnership under the initiative of the ENGSO EWS Committee.

The event was hosted and coordinated by OPES Italia.

The main objective of the workshops was to equip the sport umbrella organisations within the EQUIP partnership, to become equality mentors and initiate a sustainable change with local sport clubs and/or national federations in their respective countries (Belgium, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden).

Discussions included presentations from experts and testimonies of sport professionals on several topics linked to equal opportunities in sport; disability, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic background and racial/ethnic discrimination. The workshops also focused on practical tools to support the participants with the planning of their national multiplying activities and the development of their mentoring programs.

Day 1; disability, gender, sexual orientation

Jorge Pina, from Associaçao Jorge Pina (website) in Portugal, explained how sport played -and plays- a key role in his life, and how it improves the life of disadvantaged groups whether from low economic background or with physical disabilities. He illustrated his presentation with his own experience and described with passion the intensive work of his organisation at the grassroot level to give opportunities to all children and adults to access and practice sport and physical activity. Their goal: "bring sport to everyone"!

Tobias Staebler, from Special Olympics Europe-Asia (SOEE) (website) presented the impact of Covid-19 on the SOEE community, with testimonies from young athlete and leader Ryan who highlighted that it is crucial to "stay connected". Tobias also presented the key programs of SOEE such as Unified Sports® and called on participants to tie in with their national actors to build long lasting partnerships.

Lara Lill, consultant from Global Active Ltd (LindkedIn), talked about “Closing the fairness gap for women and girls with a disability” and advocated for “a robust approach of duty and care, and safeguarding” to break down the existing barriers. Due to gender inequalities in sport, women are missing out the lifelong benefit and reward of sport.

Emine Bozkurt, Chair of the EU High-Level group on Gender Equality gave an overview of the situation in sport in Europe. She highlighted that “leadership matters not only to change the rule, but also to drive the organisational change”.

Elizabeth Pike, Research Lead-Elect of the International Working Group on Women and Sport (website) and Professor of Sport, Health and Exercise at the University of Hertfordshire, retraced the steps forward since the signature of the Brighton Declaration (1994) and the Brighton plus Helsinki Declaration (2014) in the development of a “more fair and equitable system of sport and physical activity, fully inclusive of women and girls”. She explained the importance of women representation in leadership and the benefit of diversity in hiring the most talented people – and not only the most talented men.