They still face significant barriers to gender equality but, right across the Pacific, women are taking on the traditionally male-dominated realm of sport, and that’s something worth celebrating this International Women’s Day.
Sport is a treasured part of Pacific life, so the increasing influence and visibility of women in sport has the potential to bring about generational change in mindsets around the role of women in Pacific society.
The Australian aid-supported Pacific Sports Partnerships (PSP) program has a footprint of 15 Australian peak sporting organisations, 52 Pacific sporting federations, and last financial year reached more than 350,000 people across nine Pacific countries. Sport provides a natural platform for engaging communities on issues that are important to their wellbeing, with gender equality an ever-important conversation.
The PSP uses the power of sport to reinforce messages to both genders such as confidence, respect and ending gender-based violence. It also provides opportunities for women to be practically involved, gain leadership experience, be role models, and to challenge social norms by boldly – and visibly - advocating for change. Last year more than 170,000 of PSP participants were women or girls and importantly, many of the sports programs across the Pacific are managed by women.
This photo essay takes a close up look at what these statistics look like in action. We focus on women in their many roles across a range of sports in many PSP programs. These bold and colourful images are designed to reflect the broader theme of International Women’s Day 2017; #BeBoldForChange.