Aussie sporting stars tackle big issues facing girls

Two top Australian female athletes are teaming up to tackle a “disappointing” problem holding young women back.

Matildas striker Emily Gielnik and AFLW Hawthorn player Akec Makur Chuot will join forces to place gender equality in the spotlight.

Shocking new research from Plan International has revealed one in five Australian parents admitted to not treating their daughters equally to their sons.

Only 60 per cent of people surveyed said women’s sport was of equal standing to men’s.

These are the attitudes the South Sudanese-born Makur Chuot and soccer star Gielnik are trying to dismantle.

Gielnik said there had never been a better time to shut down that “ridiculous” belief, with community sentiment riding high off the back of the success of its female athletes.

“Having the World Cup in Australia has really shined a light on female athletes and female sport, on the heights that it actually can reach if it gets the right amount of publicity, and if it’s equally marketed, the same way as the men’s,” she told AAP.

“I think there’s been too much of a gap in the past and we’re slowly starting to bridge that gap.”

Makur Chuot said while the findings were “really sad,” they weren’t a surprise as she had been told as much by those close to her.

“Now for female sports we get to get paid to do what we love … it’s an opportunity for us to also earn an income after years of doing it for free,” she said.

Gielnik said a barrier to female athletes coming up through the ranks, was the lack of facilities.

“Men’s games were provided with more money, more publicity, more marketing by sponsors,” she said.

“We’ve got less games, we’ve got less opportunity, less funds and most most female athletes still have a job.”

To mark International Day of the Girl on Wednesday, the sporting stars will meet fans at Federation Square in Melbourne for the launch of Plan International’s campaign on gender equality.

Susanne Legena, chief executive of the girls’ rights organisation, said while there was much to celebrate, there were a range of movements seeking to roll back progress on gender equity.

“This year’s International Day of the Girl serves as a powerful reminder that change has not been equitable, it has been slow, it has been contested at every turn and continues to be,” she said.

Makur Chuot said the key to equity was valuing women.

“We need to educate ourselves better and know that women are equally as important as anyone else on this planet,” she said.


Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)


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