Why so many International Women's Day displays were meaningless

For one day every year we celebrate women.

Women's Algarve Cup

Matildas midfielder Katrina Gorry reacts after Australia lot to Denmark Source: Getty Images

Well, many of us actually celebrate it more often that that, but there is one day a year where literally everyone puts out something declaring: "We support women".

So many clubs, companies and people decide that on this day, International Women's Day, they are doing it right and they need to boast about it.

I’d like to call bulls**t.

You know when something stinks and you can’t quite figure it out but you know it’s not right…. Yeah. I am calling it.

International Women’s Day was started by the UN, because of the overwhelming need for women to have the same basic human rights as men. To be treated with dignity and respect as ALL living beings should be. They wish to empower women across the globe. (I have to relay here that I am grateful for the basic human rights I am afforded because I live in a country like Australia. I know that I am lucky to be put in a position where I feel like SPORT is lacking equality)

There are many people, companies, associations and clubs doing it right when it comes to women’s rights, issues and gender equality in their communities.

But there are also many who provide a token gesture on this one day a year to show that they are doing their bit to create an environment where women feel valued, empowered and respected.

In 2015 the Victorian government launched the 'Change our Game' initiative after releasing a report from an independent Inquiry that shed light on the gender inequality in Victorian sports and recreation.

Yesterday several clubs and sporing organisations all claimed: "We support the Change our Game Initiative by the Victorian Government".

For many, this was a statement made but not acted upon.

If you really did support the Change our Game initiative, why are your female athletes not given the same access to facilities provided to your men or even your youth boys?

Why don’t they get the same access to resources? Marketing? Equipment? Support? All things you already have in place but are not sharing.

What is stopping you from having a female face on your billboards, your posters or your newsletters? Do you think people won't come to games anymore because suddenly there is a woman staring at them? I mean I know we are influential, but really?

The fact that women are underrepresented on a majority of club boards is just ludicrous and don’t get me started on club committees and general leadership at club level.

I coach at a club that has always struggled with equality.

This year they have decided to remove this label by making our club much more inclusive.

They've provided better facilities, better marketing and for the first time, last week our senior women’s team received their weekly allowance. It covers their costs only. It's not enough but eventually it will be.

It was an emotional moment as for many of us it was the first time in our careers we had seen this happen at club level.

So why now? Because it’s time.

No other reason is necessary. Not because it’s International Women’s Day or because it looks good but because our girls need to know that they are valued. Our girls need to know there is a pathway for them whatever they choose to be or do.

So stop with tokenism and start with action. Your legacy can start right now.

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4 min read
Published 9 March 2017 at 5:58pm
By Melissa Barbieri