As Women’s Sport Week begins, Commonwealth Games Scotland is proud to support the drive for parity in sport. First in a series of posts this week celebrating our inspirational women in sport, both on the field of play and behind the scenes, is a blog from Chief Executive, Jon Doig OBE.
“Women’s Sport Week arrives off the back of a great Olympics and Paralympics that inspired a nation. At our very successful Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards, Commonwealth Games Scotland was proud to recognise athletes, coaches, teams and community sports hubs, governing bodies and leaders for helping Team Scotland in its widest sense be successful over the last year.
“The efforts of Katherine Grainger winning a Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of becoming our most successful female Olympian, Maria Lyle and Kathleen Dawson in the Young Athlete category, Libby Clegg and Jo Butterfield shortlisted for the Para Sport Award, Heather Stanning, and Katie Archibald in the female athlete category, coach Karen Ross, the Scottish Women’s Football Team and Netball Scotland were all recognised as shortlisted nominees or winners.
“Add in the likes of Laura Muir, Eilidh Doyle, Sally Conway, Karen Darke, Alison Patrick, Sammi Kinghorn, Alisha Rees, Sophie Ogilvie, Amy Costello and para-athletics coach Shona Malcolm, who were all also nominated, and you can see what fantastic role models we have for many women and girls across the country.
“Their stories need to be told more. They reflect ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Being seen and heard recognises, not only their achievement, but also the contributions of their wider support networks and their local communities, and challenges perceptions. We hope through our ‘I’m a Team Scot’ programme to be rolled out in advance of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games to tell you more about these athletes. In our ‘Go Scotland’ campaign in 2014 we were proud to feature many of our female athletes across the 17 sports in the Games.
“It’s not just the individuals involved, with many of our member sports and others actively addressing inequality every day as part of their commitment to the Equality Standard promoted via sportscotland.
“At Commonwealth Games Scotland we are proud that our Board has had a strong female influence for many years, with 62% female representation, well ahead of the UK Government and Scottish Government targets. Former Chair, Louise Martin, was nominated by CGS and votedin as President of the Commonwealth Games Federation in 2015, the first woman to take on this international role. Team Scotland athletes in 2014 were 46% women while our General Team management were 50:50.
“Team Scotland at the last three Commonwealth Youth Games have been led by talented women who have all since contributed at senior Games and are in international sporting positions of influence. Our Achieve programme, which gives young athletes and coaches experience around a Games, has also targeted former female athletes through roles as mentors, working with potential coaches and Games athletes of the future and addressing how people can get experience for future roles.
“There’s much to do of course, with our coaching staff still dominated by males reflecting wider issues in developing and retaining female coaches at the international level, although we are committed to using our Youth Games appointments to give experience.
“The solutions to inequality don’t just sit with women and girls of course. It is as much an issue about changing attitudes of men and boys, particularly about what is seen as girls’ and boys’ sport, the value given to each and participants being seen as athletes first and foremost. Breaking barriers takes time but change can become normal very quickly. I am given hope reflecting on the personal feedback of my three young boys during Glasgow 2014. After watching Scotland play netball, all they reflected on was the incredible skill, the atmosphere and a Scotland win. Long may this continue.
Jon Doig OBE