Tackling Gender Inequality

As a female football coach, you might be surprised to hear that I've been on the receiving end of some unkind labels – "dike," "man-hater," "feminist," "incompetent," "bitch," and more. Fortunately, these names don't ruffle my feathers, but it's what's beneath the surface that truly concerns me. It's the misunderstandings, the old-fashioned beliefs that women don't belong in the football scene that bother me the most.

You see, being passionate about gender equity doesn't mean we're out to wage war against other genders. We can collectively stand up against the deep-rooted biases women face in football without harbouring hostility. 

It's frustrating to witness how stubborn traditional gender roles and stereotypes remain in the sport. It’s 2023. Time to grow up. 

There's no denying that gender equity is still a challenge in Canadian football. But what can we do about it?

A comprehensive report from the Canadian Women's Foundation is shedding light on the current state of gender equality in the country. Which we will apply to the realm of football cause we can :) This report takes a close look at the situation using an intersectional approach, revealing the ongoing challenges and providing a roadmap for progress. While specific groups of women, including Indigenous, Black, and other radicalized women, immigrant women, women with disabilities, and those in remote areas, have experienced minimal or no improvements, there is a collective opportunity to observe, understand, and work toward a more equitable future. [source: Canadian Women's Foundation]

Here’s the call to action, (cause it’s what we do here!) which can contribute to challenging and dismantling systemic discrimination, right on the football field:

  1. Speak up when you see discrimination happening! Advocating for gender equity may mean raising your voice against discrimination, but it may also look like: 
    a. Not staying silent when you see discrimination or inequity. Speak up at the moment, whether it's on the field or off, at home or away, to highlight unfair practices, and comments, or to challenge the actions and words of others 
    b. Using social media to share your experiences and raise awareness about the challenges women are facing in the sport. Engage with peers, teammates, and the wider community in meaningful conversations about gender equity in football.
  2. Join up with like-minded people, including your friends, teammates, and other allies who share your concerns and commitment to gender equity. If you’re comfortable, attend events, and participate in events that promote inclusivity and equal opportunities in football or in any sport, for that matter. Support organizations and initiatives dedicated to advancing gender equity in sports.
  3. Plan events, such as workshops or seminars, to educate and inspire others about gender equity in football. Encourage inclusivity by participating in co-ed leagues or youth initiatives. Use your words to advocate for changes to policies local, regional, national and international levels to make the sport more inclusive and equitable for all.
  4. Be a mentor. If you have experience in football, offer mentorship and coaching to younger groups of females. Mentorship helps to build up knowledge and skills, encouraging more women to pursue coaching and leadership roles and feel comfortable doing so.
  5. Support other females - those on your team, on opposing teams, and in general. Make it a point to attend women's football games at various levels, from youth to professional, to show your support for female athletes. Purchasing tickets, jerseys, and merchandise can help to financially support women's football.

Volunteering for organizations dedicated to gender equity in sports or launching new initiatives can lead to significant change. Supporting inclusivity in football, such as co-ed or mixed-gender programs, allows women to stand alongside men, further breaking down barriers.

We, each of us holds the power to drive change and advocate for a more inclusive and equitable future in the world of football. The steps we take can have a profound impact on the path to gender equity. It starts with supporting female athletes, not only through our presence at women's football games but also by contributing financially to bolster the sport's growth.

By taking these initiatives, or by thinking about the issue in this way, you can actively advocate for gender equality in football and bring attention to the obstacles that women face in the sport. Supporting female athletes, challenging traditional gender roles, and being vocal about the need for inclusivity are essential in creating a more equitable and inclusive future for all in the world of football. Together, young women and their allies can make a meaningful difference and inspire a future where everyone is welcome and empowered on the field.

**What is gender equity? Gender equity means making things fair for everyone, especially when it comes to boys and girls or people of different genders. It understands that people might face unique challenges or needs because of their gender. So, it's about giving the right help and support to make sure everyone has a fair shot at success.

In simple terms, it's like fixing an uneven playground so that everyone can play and have fun without any unfair obstacles in their way. It's all about making sure things are fair and equal for everyone, no matter who they are. Be purposeful, be a catalyst, a visual marker of change! Be apart of a powerful role women can play in revolutionizing football. 

Coach Steph

Coach Steph's Head shot, Ottawa Women's football Founder
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