In a presentation at SportAccord 2019 Gold Coast, Sport New Zealand general manager of partnerships and communications, Jennah Wootten, said the New Zealand Government’s Strategy on Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation has provided a significant boost to the profile of women in sport.
The strategy, which was released by the New Zealand Government last year, is structured around three pillars, leadership, participation, and value and visibility.
Wootten said women are underrepresented on boards, in coaching and in all aspects of leadership, but the strategy has added profile and new momentum to Sport NZ’s work in increasing female representation since its Community Sport Strategy in 2015.
“The Government Strategy and Sport NZ’s response to it are now enabling us to ramp this up even more by encouraging collective action across our sport and active recreation sector, so that we can achieve our vision of enabling more women and girls to realise their potential in and through sport and active recreation,” she said.
“The biggest problem is addressing the rapid decline in participation that occurs during teenage years and from which at present there is no recovery during adult years.
“This is something Sport NZ is working hard to address through providing strategic direction for collective action across the sport and active recreation sector.
“We know that participation brings many societal, health and community benefits.
“Sport can also help develop confidence, teamwork and leadership skills.
“Research shows a direct correlation between participation in sport and greater achievement in higher education and employment, so it’s crucial we grow teenage participation as a priority,” Wootten said.
Wootten also addressed the final pillar of the strategy, value and visibility, to which she said the poor coverage of women’s sport in the NZ media needs to change for women to realise their full potential in the sports media landscape.
“New organisations such as the Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA) have been formed to improve the representation of women in sports media, and WISPA has led to a consortium of agencies in securing the secretariat and hosting rights for the World Conference of the International Working Group on Women in Sport from 2018 to 2022.
A large aspect of the strategy is a goal to have a minimum of 40 per cent female representation for actual investment throughout New Zealand from December 2021.