Erasmus+ Sport: GAPWOMEN

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To mark International Women’s Rights Day, Margherita Sport e Vita organized two events focusing on resilience and women’s participation in soccer. These events are part of the European project Gap Women, which promotes the development of women’s sporting practices and the development of inclusive and equitable sporting environments.

Significant gender inequalities persist in the sport sector. Indeed, in 90% of sports in European countries, there is a wide disparity between the number of licenses taken out by men and women within federations, which can increase considerably regarding certain sports traditionally associated with men. The result is inequalities in the development of women’s practices, involving disparities in terms of resources, opportunities, representation, and recognition between male and female athletes.

A European Project for gender equality in sport

Promoting women’s participation in sport to increase the number of women’s federation licenses is the objective of the Gap Women project, supported by the European Union. The 10 partners united around the project act to create a more inclusive and equitable environment in which all individuals could pursue their own sporting aspirations. Gap Women then addresses adult women aged 18 to 50, including those from groups at risk of social exclusion, but also organizations, federations, clubs, and public authorities, with several awareness activities and conferences on the issues of gender equality and inclusion in sports. 

On International Women’s Rights Day, celebrated on March 8, Gap Women seized the opportunity to promote the role of women in sport, as athletes, but also in management, coaching, and leadership roles. On this day of commemoration for women’s historic struggles for equal rights, the project partners launched a campaign to raise awareness of gender equality in sport, joined by several organizations all around Europe. For example, several European sports figures, including Vanina Paoletti, Jen Browning, Mercè Rosich, or Annika Zeyen, took the floor to promote gender equality in sport in a video clip shared on multiple social networks.

Women’s resilience and participation in football

In this context, Aps Asd Margherita Sport e Vita, one of the partners of Gap Women, led two events in collaboration with Pink Bari Calcio Femminile Asd, which has been engaged for more than 20 years in the training of young female football players in the region of Apulia, Italy.

The first event was a seminar held on February 28 dedicated to resilience in sport, and more specifically, about being a woman in football. The idea during this training meeting was that competitive practice trains many social skills: cooperation, mutual help, resisting fatigue, and therefore, can also be useful outside the football field. Psychologist Dr. Sicilia, who presented the event, focused her presentation on the difficulty of being a woman in the practice of football in Italy, where the stereotype that ‘football is for men!’ is still strong. She emphasized that these gender stereotypes are rooted in a social and educational problem, but through football practice, you can learn to free yourself from certain conditionings, including by learning to experience the natural time of a learning process, with its failures, etc. The seminar ended with an intervention of the Pink Football team President, Alessandra Signorile, who directly addressed parents to invite them to let their daughters play the sport of their choice without exerting pressure of any kind.

The second event took place the day after International Women’s Day, on March 9. Margherita Sport e Vita and Pink Bari Calcio Femminile Asd organized a football regional tournament for girls. It was an opportunity to address the gender gap and to promote gender equality in sport, by encouraging women’s participation in a sport federation.

Next steps

The Gap Women project partners are currently working on the development of online courses including information, tools, and strategies for creating more inclusive and equitable sporting environments.