RTÉ and TG4’s game-changing coverage of the Women’s World Cup has shown how far women’s sports has come – and is a chance to push for seismic change here, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Neale Richmond said: “RTÉ and TG4 made the brilliant decision to broadcast all 52 matches of the tournament and a massive 315,000 tuned into the cracking USA v England semi-final match.
“In addition to this there were many examples of quality sports reporting covering the tournament in the print and online media.
“This all goes to show that the tide has turned and women’s sport is finally beginning to take its rightful place among fans.
“As someone who has coached women’s rugby and hockey as well as being a keen supporter of my nieces sporting interests; I am well aware of how important seeing women’s sport in the media is for encouraging participation.
“There is no doubt the awesome performances of Cori Gauff at this year’s Wimbledon tennis championship, seen my millions around the world, will provide further inspiration to many boys and girls to get active; not to mention many men and women.
“But there is no point just leaving female politicians and sports stars to push for transformation; it has to come from everyone.
“With record breaking numbers attending our All Ireland Camogie and Ladies Football finals, increased coverage of the women’s rugby six nations and an Olympics on the horizon, now is the time for our Government to catch up with the public on this. There has been an increase in funding in recent years but we have so much ground to catch up on. Is our strategy for sport serious about real gender balance in sport?
“In terms of effecting an immediate change, I am calling on the Department of Sport to explore the idea of introducing gender quotas for the boards of sporting bodies.
“Having women at the table when key decisions are made in an organisation will ensure that there is a top-down approach to closing the gender gap in sports. Women need to be at the table when key decisions are made about funding allocations and strategy.
“Much has been done by some of our sporting bodies but we cannot just sit back and wait for change to happen organically.
“While having more women elected to the boards of sporting bodies will not be enough on its own, in tandem with an increased investment and a higher media profile, it will help transform the landscape for women’s sport in Ireland for the better.
“This could be approached in the same way Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton, has approached increasing female representation on State boards.
“That initiative has seen the female share of State Board membership is now 40.7%, with efforts very much still ongoing.”