Gender is a term that defines the roles, behaviors and activities that a particular society believes are appropriate for either men or women. The assignment of these roles to a man or a woman can create gender inequities that is, the differences between men and women that tend to favor one group over the other that is, men and women. Gender equity is the opposite of gender inequality and it describes the act of fairly allocating resources and opportunities for both men and women. Gender equity eliminates discriminatory practices that are barriers to full participation for either gender.
However, the practice of gender equity does not necessarily mean that everyone is treated in an identical manner but rather gender equity means changing the responses and treatment of both men and women when accessing resources, rights, and opportunities regardless of gender which is taken as a neutral factor. This is because identical treatment is not guaranteed that it will yield equal opportunities for both men and women all the time especially in the existing power structures.
Alongside gender discrimination or inequality there are other discrimination in the world like racism. This has brought under development especially in the third world countries, which are the most affected. Today, there are a number of things that are being put in practice so as to promote gender equality in the world. In the governments of today, there is a rule of a-third women representation in the government for example in Kenya. Also, sports have been used to promote gender equality where women are given equal attention in terms of representation and participation.
Sport is a fundamental part of the culture of almost every nation. However, its use to promote gender equity and empower women is often overlooked because sport is not universally supposed as a suitable quest for women that is sports are not an attraction for many women and so their use to help women usually is not guaranteed. This makes girls and women less likely than boys and men to participate in sports thus making sport to continue to be dominated by males. This is not because girls and women do not wish to participate in sports.
High rates of poverty, heavy domestic demands for women, safety concerns, inadequate sport and recreation facilities and few opportunities for physical education and skill development frequently prevent girl’s and women’s participation in physical activity and sport. Socio-cultural norms like the woman is supposed to stay at home and take care of the homestead and children, also prevent girls and women from being physically active and thus they don’t participate in sports.
Benefits of Sports to Women
Many countries support women’s participation in sport with some national laws requiring equal access and opportunities for females. Over the years, sports have benefited girls and women in a number of ways. First of all, involvement in sports and physical activities has helped girls and women enhance their health and well-being. Through sports girls and women become more physically active thus benefiting their physical and mental health, including the reduced risk they will suffer from chronic diseases like cancer, depression and anxiety and engaging in health risk behaviors like unhealthy sexual activities and drug abuse. Sports can also be used as a healthy information and education platform where girls and women get the information, skills and strategies that they need to reduce health risks in their lives especially with their sexual and reproductive health.
Sport help increase self-esteem by giving girls and women a public recognition opportunity after they have learnt new skills, achieved results and feel as part of the society by the attention they get while participating in the sport. Sport programs also empower girls and women by providing them with a voice during the participation in sports where they learn how to take greater control over their own lives. The involvement of girls and women in sports helps them not to be socially excluded from the society proceedings by giving them a chance of participation in decision making in sport councils.
Challenges of Women Participation in Sports
There are many challenges that come along with women’s participation in sports. Among them is the little value for sport participation for women in some communities. This means that not many communities will support girls’ and women’s participation in sports.
Sport also comes with its own risks. It is the believe of many that male leaders in sports like coaches and officials perform better than female leaders, the girls and women have no choice but adhere to the believe. These female athletes may be subjected to sexual harassment by their female leaders. Involvement in sports also changes a woman’s normal body function like interrupted menstruations amongst others.