A CALL TO ACTION: Respect, Protect, and Fulfill the Rights of Girls and Women to Sport and Play

Girls and women have the right to participate in sport, physical activity, and recreation—a right that is clearly enshrined in several international charters and conventions. Yet sport has traditionally been regarded as a male domain, and discrimination against girls and women remains widespread. In some places access to sport is entirely prohibited. In many other contexts girls and women are actively discouraged from participating, and universally there are fewer structures, institutions, and facilities that enable girls’ and women’s participation.

When a girl discovers her power on the field, she unlocks her potential off the field. Participation in sport has positive ripple effects beyond the game, transforming the way girls think of themselves and challenging gender stereotypes. We call on all stakeholders to join forces to respect, protect, and fulfill the rights of girls and women to sport and play.


We call on UN Agencies and Member States to:
• Recognize that participation in sport is an important accelerator to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals—particularly in health, education, gender empowerment, nutrition, poverty reduction, and peace—and ensure that sport is reflected in the implementation of these goals.

We call on Governments to:
• Invest in and implement national policies, laws, and plans that enable women and girls to exercise their right to sport and play, and to level the playing field—allocating resources for girls’ and women’s sport in equal proportion to boys’ and men’s.
• Integrate girls’ and women’s participation in sport within broader government strategies in education, nutrition, and health as a means of advancing the gender equality, rights, wellbeing, and economic empowerment of girls and women.
• Ensure that girls’ and women’s participation in sport is safe, without fear of violence, discrimination, and harassment.
• Compile and report gender disaggregated community- and national-level data on sport participation.

We call on Donors to:
• Expand support for sport programming targeting girls and women, particularly among under-served populations.
• Support research to build the evidence base on the benefits of sport for girls and women, particularly relating to progress on their rights, wellbeing, economic empowerment, and health – including sexual and reproductive health and rights – and
addressing gender based violence.
• Integrate sport for girls and women within other donor initiatives targeting women and girls, including maternal health, girls’ education, life skills training, nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, and economic empowerment.

We call on the Media to:
• Increase media coverage of female sport, currently 7% of all sport coverage, and feature female athletes and coaches in equal proportion to men in awards and media coverage.
• Increase the number of female reporters and anchors.
• Address stigma and beliefs that prevent girls and women from participating in sport.
• Highlight girls’ and women’s participation in sport as a mechanism for advancing the health, rights, wellbeing, nutrition, education, and economic empowerment of girls and women.

We call on sport-related federations and NGOs to:
• Establish and implement policies and programs that recognize the holistic benefits of sport for women and girls, promote gender equality both on and off the field, and ensure their participation in a safe environment.
• Develop and disseminate best practices and tools that are specific to girls and women in sport programming, including monitory and evaluation frameworks.
• Create or expand programming, which recognizes and leverages the health, rights, wellbeing, nutrition, education, and economic empowerment of girls and women.
• Advocate for political and financial support for sport programs.
• Make information, tools, curricula, and other related materials free and available to the general public to increase uptake and quality of programming; and work toward gender equity in staffing at all levels, from coaches, to management, to boards.

We call on Researchers to:
• Integrate girls’ and women’s participation in sport within broader government strategies in education, nutrition, and health—including sexual and reproductive health and rights—as a means of advancing the gender equality, rights, and wellbeing, and economic empowerment of girls and women.
• Conduct research to make the case for investing in girls’ and women’s sport, and aim to address the research gap related to the participation of girls and women in sport in low- and middle-income countries.

We call on the Private Sector to:
• Increase investment in girls’ and women’s sport, donating 1% or more of their sport-related marketing investments towards advancing girls’ and women’s participation in sport.
• Promote the achievements of female athletes and the benefits of girls’ and women’s participation in sport, through marketing and public relations.
• Promote girls’ and women’s involvement in sport as a mechanism for advancing women’s leadership.

For more information, visit www.girlpowerinplay.org.

    SIGN ONTO THE CALL TO ACTION! Tell Decision-Makers Girls and Women Have the Right to Play Sports

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