My dream of sporting equality is a step closer

Says Scottish Women in Sport’s Maureen McGonigle

Martin Luther King Junior’s “I have a dream” quote is one of the most powerful taken from a speech in August 1963. His dream was for freedom and equality and an end to hatred.

Some may think it is to overstate the case that this quote should now be one that I use to explain my own dream for women and girls in sport, however it does sum up how I feel.

My dream is about parity in sport for our Scottish athletes and equal promotion and investment into all areas of sport for women.

For a long time this has remained just that: a dream. However things are about to change with the publication of Sportswoman, a new magazine dedicated to women and girls in Scotland. Now I can see that parts of my dream are becoming a reality and I am delighted with that.

To take you back just a little bit, Scottish Women in Sport was formed in 2013 and registered as a charity. It was launched with the support of RBS and in the company of Judy Murray and Katherine Grainger and we have grown from strength to strength since then. That, many would say, is a good thing, however it further underlines the need for such an organisation in this day and age.

Why Scottish Women in Sport, you ask? I was aware at that time of several organisations down South dedicated to women in sport and also of the shocking statistics, so eloquently recounted by broadcaster Clare Balding, following the 2012 London Olympics. I felt very strongly that Scotland deserved its own organisation to highlight the inequality that existed in nearly all areas of sport for women in Scotland and decided to do what I could to help redress this disparity.

At that time, Balding told of how 0.5 per cent was the total market sponsorship of women’s sport in the UK, with 61.1 per cent for men’s sports over the same period and the remainder accounted for by mixed sport. She went onto to highlight that there was approximately only five per cent of sports media coverage featuring women and for every 53 articles written about men in sport, there was just one about a woman.

‘That is why this publication is vital to progress awareness of women in sport in Scotland and I am delighted to support it’

Now I am aware that currently there are, and have been, moves within other areas of the media to redress the balance, since then, however do they impact and focus on the lives of our Scottish athletes? I’m not so sure. Only one paper, the National, is committed to regular coverage of female athletes in Scotland.

Lack of participation in sport, for whatever reason, from exclusion or choice, can have a detrimental effect on an individual that stays with them throughout their lifetime and means they are lost to sport.

This has to be avoided at all costs, not only for the sake of the future of many sports, but also because we are now so much more knowledgeable about the benefits of physical activity and sport on all aspects of our life. Health, education, social skills, leadership skills: sport is becoming the panacea for all ills and that is yet another reason we cannot accept our sportswomen being treated as an afterthought.

We need to celebrate and promote their achievements for all to see and to let our young girls know that there is a place and a role for them in every aspect of sport. That is why this publication is vital to progress awareness of women in sport in Scotland and I am delighted to support it.

However a word of caution, if we don’t use it, we lose it! You and me and everyone else out there who supports Scottish women in sport, need to support Sportswoman. We need to ensure that the magazine reaches a widespread audience and receives strong financial backing. So, if you are in a position to help through advertising, give them a call. If you have a story, give them a call.

This is teamwork. This is what we talk about so often. So let’s get ready for the kick-off and look forward to the end result: a magazine dedicated to, and worthy of, our Scottish sportswomen.

Maureen McGonigle is the founder of the charity Scottish Women in Sport. For further information go to www.scottishwomeninsport.co.uk