The Olympic Games are an incredible platform to showcase female athletes as inspirational role models. Even more so when, according to a UNESCO study in 2018, women represent just seven per cent of sportspeople seen, heard, or read about in the media, and only four per cent of sport stories focus primarily on women.
These statistics underline the importance of addressing the media portrayal of female athletes, with sports coverage playing a hugely influential role in shaping gender norms and stereotypes. The two weeks of Olympic coverage, then, are a rare time when women’s sport hits the headlines over a sustained period. It is also a critical moment to challenge prejudice and clichés of, for instance, certain sports being “a man’s game” or “not for girls”.
It's really crucial what the media is doing and how it portrays female athletes.Marisol Casado IOC Member
As IOC Member and the sole female president of a Summer International Federation with a sport on the Olympic programme, Marisol Casado, said: “It's really crucial what the media is doing and how it portrays female athletes. I have already seen changes with the number of women in the media in my country [Spain] and how they present female athletes. This is something that can help the situation evolve. Without the involvement of the media, it is almost impossible to achieve change. But with them, it is easy because they can make a huge difference.”
That is why the IOC has been taking advantage of International Women’s Week to place a focus on some of those inspiring, and perhaps lesser known, individuals making a name for themselves.
From American weightlifter and body positive image ambassador Morghan King, for instance. Or French taekwondo Olympic medallist and women in sport champion Gwladys Épangue. Or IOC Women in Sport Commission Member and Pakistani squash player Maria Toorpakai and her fight for the right to play sport.
These are, however, merely a sample of inspirational #WomenInSport as, thankfully, there are too many to list. And our focus will continue well beyond International Women’s Day. It will extend to other women in sport – from coaches to leaders and advocates – as the IOC is committed to ensuring that girls and boys, women and men, have a diverse range of strong, inspiring and heroic sporting role models to look up to.
Share with us which #WomenInSport inspires you the most and why on your social channels using the hashtag!
For more information on what the IOC is doing, visit: www.olympic.org/women-in-sport
Find here the IOC’s Portrayal Guidelines for Gender Balanced Representation, as a direct result of the IOC Gender Equality Review Project launched last year.