Although the drive for improving gender equality should not leave anyone out, the efforts should focus on the younger segment of the population who are more open minded, and have not as yet been saddled by the local perceptions, traditions and cultures which tend to propagate gender imbalances
Following their exploits at the Għarb Stadium earlier on Friday, the partners in the Erasmus+ Sports project IGETS, held the first of two forums scheduled for this final transnational meeting to discuss the findings of the two-year project. The theme of the first forum, held at the Country Terrace which overlooks the picturesque Mgarr Harbour in Għajnsielem, was that by empowering young female athletes gender equality will eventually be achieved.
Attitudes, perceptions, mind-sets, and especially traditions along with cultures, take time to change especially if national institutions are not geared to promote and effect such a change. This is particularly true for female empowerment and gender equality. Traditional gender roles are hampering women from closing the gender gap. Malta ranks second amongst European Union member states for the highest number of economically inactive women. The rate of female participation in sport is also alarmingly low. The statistics for Gozo are dramatically worse than those for Malta.
Although the drive for improving gender equality should not leave anyone out, the efforts should focus on the younger segment of the population who are more open minded, and have not as yet been saddled by the local perceptions, traditions and cultures which tend to propagate gender imbalances.
Sport has been proven as the best way to reduce gender inequality in society. Sport, especially softball, is empowering, and girls who grow up participating in sports tend to develop qualities such as self-confidence, resilience, motivation, determination, and leadership, which, once they grow up, put them in a better position to face and successfully overcome barriers which limit women in achieving their career objectives, whether these are sport or work related.
The senior players at the forum contributed to the discussion with their own stories. Some said that it was thanks to their involvement in sports, playing softball, that they attended college or university and took courses which would lead to a sport related career, such as sport psychology or physiotherapy. For most, softball gave them the opportunity to travel regularly to participate in tournaments in other countries, meeting players and coaches from other cultures while learning invaluable lessons.
The evening concluded with a presentation of an IGETS memento to the officials who worked on the project from the three partner clubs, as well as to all of the 26 players participating in the Gozo Cup 2018. This was in line with the objective of the activity, which was to make the female athletes feel appreciated and respected for their sporting achievements.
IGETS is a two-year project co-financed by the European Union. The Għajnsielem Redcoats received assistance from the Ministry of Education and Employment through the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport & Voluntary Organisations to meet its co-financing obligations.
Disclaimer: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.