By Megan Mattison, Editorial Intern
Hope Solo, an American soccer goalkeeper who has won two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup gold medal, once said, “It’s clear that women athletics are pretty far behind in every way. In terms of facilities, how much we make, everything.” She has already become successful and well-known in women’s athletics but she still believes women are lacking the respect they deserve as athletes. In countries all around the globe, including the United States, female portrayal in all modern sports, ranging from basketball to surfing, has been absent since as early as 1793 when Germany started testing girls’ physical performances and allowing them to do sports. Even while girls have started to participate in sports, there is still a lack of coverage about them in media. Woman athletes don’t get the respect and appreciation they deserve for their talent, and they aren’t given that ‘special treatment’ like the boys get, such as gym space, better uniforms, and better equipment.
Recently, that has started to change in some countries. For example, in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India, girls are starting to take matters into their own hands and make a difference in their community when it comes to the sports they love. But it’s not enough for just a few girls in a few countries to make a distinction and start a movement. The amount of dedication that goes in to women athletics has been lacking all over the world, but with hard work to keep pursuing the activity the girl and women love and the determination to overcome the cultural norms, women and girls of all ages, looking to become something greater in their athletic field, can grow to become as important in the sport’s industry as men are.
Photo by Sitwat Rizvi (published in New York Times article below)
In Sanam Maher’s New York Times’ Woman in the World article, “Take an exclusive look inside Pakistan’s first all-girl boxing club,” the writer introduces us to an organization that helps young girls practice what they love to do. When a teenage girl, Khadijah, wanted to box and no one would let her, she went to an old coach of the sport and asked him to teach her. As more and more girls showed up, totaling as many as 13, their coach knew he needed to find a space and start an official program for them. Thus, the Sindh Boxing Association was born. It was the first official training program in Pakistan to teach women how to box. This story teaches us that young girls aspiring to become great athletes, not just in the U.S., have to overcome certain obstacles. It takes hard work. You have to be able to put in the long hours of work if you want to be able to prove to, not just your friends or family, but to your community that women can be equal to men in athletics.
Photo by ALLISON JOYCE/GETTY IMAGES (published in New York Times article below)
Just a few countries to the east of Pakistan is the country Bangladesh. Reporter Katie Booth broadcasted the storyline, “Despite living in a ‘man’s world,’ the surf girls of Bangladesh are on the rise”, for Women in the World. Booth’s article describes on a group of young girls who get surfing and English lessons from a Bangladeshi couple living in the area. Although the girls got teased and harassed by men and women of all ages, the girls continued to surf and learn English, and their teachers saw a growth in their confidence. This eventually turned into the Cox’s Bazar Lifesaving and Surfing Club. Especially when boys their age start to tease them, the girls will take their board and show them otherwise. Between the ages of 5 and 15, these girls were able to influence their community’s idea on girls doing sports; and in this case, getting an education at the same time. If girls as young as 5 years old can help change the opinions of those around them, in a place where women aren’t permitted to do much, then why can’t adolescent girls in America-or anywhere else in the world- do the same thing? The surfers of Bangladesh were determined to prove the people around them that they were wrong about girls doing sports and they were willing to put the hard work in to prove it. When other girls around the world start to make change happen in the minds of others like these girls did, then we can actually prove to all the people out there, who don’t think women sports or athletes are important, that we are just as important as men athletes.
Each month, one of our high school interns will research articles written by or about women’s sports. We see our Sports Round Ups as a gathering place of women sports news and voices. Our mission is to spread awareness of women’s voices in the sporting field, to help tell the stories of our community, and to inspire her own understanding and voice. Check out our Sports Round Up series.