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University calls for urgent attention to be given to gender-based violence against women and girls in sport

  • 158 organisations worldwide are questioned about their progress on gender-based violence against women and girls in sport
  • More than a third of organisations had not taken action over the past five years
  • Almost a quarter of those organisations believed that gender-based violence was not relevant to them
  • Results of study indicate there is much to be done to truly address the issue - says Dr Jordan Matthews

University of Chichester calls for urgent attention to be given to gender-based violence against women and girls in sport

A GLOBAL research study commissioned by the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) and carried out by a research team from the University of Chichester and the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences has called for “urgent attention” to be given to tackle violence against women and girls in sport across the world.

The study is part of the four-yearly IWG Progress Report 2013-2018 which tracks the development of and trends in women and sport. The research team questioned 158 organisations worldwide, all of which are signatories to the Brighton Declaration on Women in Sport.

The Declarations sets out the principles by which signatory organisations should allow women and girls to take part in sport in a safe environment. The signatories were asked if they had taken any action since the last IWG Progress Report (in 2013) to prevent gender-based violence in sport.

The response has led the IWG and the research team to call for immediate action to address the issue and for further research to fully understand its extent. In the findings of the research, 37 per cent of organisations had not taken action since 2013 to protect women and girls from gender-based violence in sport.

Of that group, 28 per cent had not considered taking action, while 24 per cent claimed gender-based violence was not relevant to them. Some 63 per cent of organisations had taken action since 2013, but only half of them had adopted guidelines for handling cases of gender-based violence and only 47 per cent had adopted a code of conduct.

The research also found that 90 per cent of National Olympic Committees have taken preventative actions and that the International Olympic Committee recently released a gender equality review.

While the results of the study make for sombre reading, the research team have tempered the results by highlighting the difficulty of extrapolating and analysing data from a diverse range of organisations which use differing interpretations of gender-based violence, and differing methods to address it.

Dr Jordan Matthews

“Notwithstanding, the results of our study indicate that there is much to be done to truly address the issue of gender-based violence against girls and women in sport,” said Dr Jordan Matthews, Senior Lecturer in Sport Development, Business and Coaching at the University of Chichester and a member of the research team.

“We believe that more studies need to be carried out to ascertain the prevalence of gender-based violence in sport. We also need to move towards gender mainstreaming, where gender equality becomes part of everything that sporting organisations do. A better understanding of the issues involved has the potential to create a greater consistency in how gender-based violence is addressed, which can lead to codes of conduct and solutions for adoption top to bottom, and worldwide.”

To find out more about the International Working Group on Women and Sport report go to www.iwg-gti.org. For more about how the University of Chichester is supporting women in sport, including through its annual Women‘s Sport Leadership Academy, visit www.chi.ac.uk/wsla. Alternatively see the Anita White Foundation at www.chi.ac.uk/awf.