Cork based Fine Gael Senator, Tim Lombard, said we need to improve access and opportunity for women’s sport in Ireland via a new National Strategy for Woman in Sport aimed at increasing recognition, funding and participation.
“I am a passionate advocate of sport; aside from the enjoyment sporting participation brings, the psychological and physical benefits of sports are necessary for the health of our nation.
“It is clear to me that there are still substantial differences between the participation, funding and recognition of women’s sport here in Ireland in comparison to their male counterparts.
“Competitive women’s sport in Ireland faces numerous challenges, including: high drop-out rates, particularly during teen years; insufficient female coaches and administrators; small audiences and supporters; inequity of sponsorship and pay.
“Sponsorship and exposure for women’s sports illustrates this massive imbalance; media coverage of women in sport is estimated to be only 5% of the total sports coverage, while the 2016 RTE award for sportsperson of the year saw eight male athletes nominated but only four female nominations.
“There are some success stories though, investment in and recognition of women’s rugby has grown substantially in recent years, as we’ve seen by Ireland hosting the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, now we need to make sure that that success is replicated across other sports.
“There are still significant barriers that we need to identify and resolve which is why I am calling on the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to create a proactive National Strategy that will increase funding, participation and recognition of women’s sport.
“I was very pleased with the response issued by the Minister of Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, who presented his intention to publish a National Sports Policy aimed at increasing participation in sport and physical activity. While it is necessary for such a policy to have a population-wide focus, the Minister anticipates that issues surrounding female participation in sport will be addressed specifically.
“I believe recognition of our sportswomen is of huge necessity; the old adage of ‘if you can’t see it you can’t be it’ applies here. Visible role models, our female athletes demonstrating and being acknowledged for their immense skill and competence will inspire people of all ages and abilities. This, among other initiatives, will help promote participation and funding for women’s sport, facilitating increased opportunity and access for all female athletes, from the recreational grassroots through to elite performers.”