Spring Challenge 2020-  26th September2020

Participants in the recent Christchurch Spring Challenge. An all women adventure race for 1500 competitors.  © Copyright:  John Davidson / www.image-central.co.nz

I am encouraged to learn about the forward momentum to address the gender equity issues in NZ sport after virtually attending the Women & Girls Summit 2020 run by Women in Sport Aotearoa, Sport NZ and Shift NZ this week. It’s good to hear that a key focus of the Governments $265 million COVID-19 recovery package for sport is to boost female participation, leadership and visibility. As a female photographer that often covers sport professionally I see a female focus in sport is desperately needed realising also we still have a long way to go to achieve gender equity in sport. This is supported by some of the statistics released in the summit including the following that:

• Females aged between 5-50 years participate in sport less than our male counterparts*

• 15% of editorial sports media mentions women vs 84% mentions men, and

• 20% of sports coverage bylined ie written by female vs 80% bylined men.**

A panel of sports editors were invited to give their response to the media statistics, and they validated the figures, some explaining this trend as being partly due to the difficulty in recruiting female journalists. Stuff indicated recent internal changes had been made by setting up a women’s group to focus on women’s sport and setting up a dedicated section for women’s sport on their website. Newsroom, a media partner of the Summit, already has dedicated staff committed to reporting on women’s sport.

2016 Nicole Shields-1

Cyclist Nicole Shields training in Earnscleugh, Central Otago NZ.  © Copyright image:  Clare Toia-Baiiley / www.image-central.co.nz

So how can we help build on this forward momentum to continue to drive positive change for women's sports? Everyone can contribute in some way.  I’ve outlined some thoughts below. Some of these actions are no doubt already in progress, or perhaps soon to be, but everyone has a responsibility to achieve this change regardless of their involvement in sport by:

· Embracing opportunities to coach or umpire and take on leadership roles in sport,

· encouraging other wāhine to participate in sport and provide support to them so they can take up leadership positions,

· empowering female leaders that take the time to volunteer and/or lead by creating a positive experience,

· creating female ambassadors and showcase our role models and tell the whole world about them!

· promoting female stories on our own platforms and share with mainstream media

· supporting media that profile women’s sports by sharing their articles and social media posts and paying for their articles

· using insights to ensure our sporting experiences, development programs, and competition are relevant for the needs of females

· pushing for fair access to venues and facilities for training and competition

· reducing barriers, developing and strengthening pathways for females to participate in media (including sports photography)

· continuing to push for more women in leadership positions across all industries

· supporting brands that focus on diversity and inclusion across all levels of their organisation

· drawing in sponsors and supporting those that support women’s sport, and;

· keeping up positive conversations and networking opportunities to help support and drive this change.


SuperSmash Cricket

Northern Mystics Player at Molyneux Park, Alexandra Central Otago, NZ.  © Copyright image:  Clare Toia-Bailey / www.image-central.co.nz

As recognised in the Summit, the prospect of hosting three international women's sporting events coming up in NZ is a huge opportunity to help raise the visibility and value of women’s sport here and overseas. However, let’s keep pushing across the board, at every level and industry, to continue taking a leading role in promoting a more inclusive environment to achieve gender equity in sport.


Authors notes:

*From Laura Menzie, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Sport NZ 30:15 view here

**From Sport NZ Media Analysis.  Philip Clark, Group Media Manager, Sport NZ & Ngaire Crawford Insights Director, iSentia view here


1. If you need some inspiration to lead change, I loved this motivating speech from Chyloe Kurdas Female Engagement Senior Manager, Golf Australia who at the summit talks about her experience of establishing the Womens AFL competition starting in Victoria and her later work with Golf Australia 7:30 – 25:50 about creating positive social change.  View here

2. Thanks to Women in Sport Aotearoa, Sport NZ and Shift NZ for the insightful discussions

3. Up and coming Women’s World Cup Events scheduled to be hosted in NZ: · The 2021 Rugby World Cup for women, to be held in New Zealand between 18 September and 16 October 2021 in the cities of Auckland and Whangarei · The 2022 Women's Cricket World Cup  · The FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™ will be staged in Australia and New Zealand.

4. About the Author - Clare Toia-Bailey

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