20X20 Weekly – Social Movement

The 20X20 initiative was launched in Dublin this month. It is a campaign to raise media coverage, attendance and participation across all Women’s sport. As a long time advocate of parity of esteem, we have been strong supporters of the campaign which is being backed by Sport for Business members including the Federation of Irish Sport, Along Came a Spider, AIG, Three and Lidl.

It’s all about personal commitments to change and ours is the publication of a new weekly column looking at different aspects of Women’s Sport both here and around the world that will be relevant in terms of advocacy but also in terms of commercial partnership and sporting administration

It’s all about hashtags and the stories they bring together. Social media has become the main driver of movements that seek behavioural change and while there is undoubted care needed in believing everything you reed on those channels there is strength in the weight of numbers that can get behind them.

We have seen their power here in Ireland through Marriage equality and Repeal the 8th Campaigns that brought different social groups together in support of what was generally perceived to be a just cause. In many ways it is the ultimate in democracy with people feeling they have played a part by carrying a badge, sharing images, liking what others are saying and getting involved in a more modern equivalent of knocking on physical doors.

#20X20 feels fresh and vibrant. The early momentum from Monday morning’s launch was palpable both in the Google Foundry among those for whom this was an obvious area to support but also spreading out into the wider sporting world with commitments being made and promises to self and to a wider world being made.

The early days though are not the most important unless they can foster the kind of sustainable support that does create real change.

In this we are fortunate that 20X20 is as much an amplification of things that are happening as the first step on rolling the boulder up the mountain.

All of the backers have been involved in campaigns and programmes at individual level over many years. Sport Ireland’s Women in Sport Funding spread €600,000 across 26 sports in 2018 and the money being made available in overall terms from Government through Sport Ireland will rise to €2 million in 2019.

That was announced before the launch of #20X20 but it was borne of the same sense that the difference across so many metrics between men and women in sport is unacceptable.

The feeling goes well beyond Ireland as well. UEFA has been a long-term backer of campaigns to promote football as being the number one sport for young girls and women.

It’s #WePlayStrong campaign has highlighted ‘skills, confidence and friendship’expressed through the stories of 750 teenage players across Europe.

It has achieved over 200 million campaign views on social media and generated 70,000 followers. Research was undertaken which shows that 73 per cent of girls who saw the videos said they wanted to play football.

They have sown the seeds and yesterday it announced financial support to nurture them to grow. It will invest a total of €8,250,000 a year from 2020 to be spread in amounts of €150,000 across each of the 55 member nations.

That will mean €150,000 for the FAI in Dublin and the IFA in Belfast. Real money which can be used to have a real impact.

Other sports may not have the same money at their disposal but it’s about setting the right tone and then following through with real support.

Sport for Business understands that a new strategic plan for Women’s rugby will be published shortly and advances in cricket, hockey, gymnastics, basketball, ladies football, camogie, rowing, volleyball and athletics are all on our radar.

It’s about keeping the momentum going, learning from those that might be doing it better than you at the moment, realising that doing a bit is sometimes enough and sometimes not, and working in whatever way you can to make the aspiration of equality as real in sport as it is in education and medicine.

This column will also provide an opportunity to give space to guest columnists to have their say. That could mean you. Email us today quoting 20X20 Weekly in the Subject line and let’s see what we might do in the coming weeks and months.


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