Whistler’s Day of the Girl Takes on Gender Equality in Sport

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Hosted by the Whistler Secondary Leadership Club, the October 13 event welcomes four panelists

At the last International Day of the Girl event in Whistler in 2019, an 11-year-old girl approached the microphone to ask a simple question that seemed to baffle the panelists.

“’When I turn on the television, I can always find boys playing football, but where can I see the girls? ”, Recalled the founder of the event, Dee Raffo. “It’s a huge problem, and we know it, but we don’t really know how to fix it, so when we were thinking about the topics for this year, we thought about trying to dive in and answer this girl’s question because that this is an important question which, in my opinion, has repercussions throughout [the push] for gender equality, and not just in sport.

Hosted and organized with the help of the student-led leadership team from Whistler High School (WSS), the October 13 event will feature four panelists from the Canadian sports world: Jacie deHoop, co-founder of The GIST, a sports media start-up. a composition made by women that seeks to make athletics more accessible and inclusive for all sports fans; Natasha Cyrille, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Canadian Women & Sport, an organization founded in 1981 to advocate for progressive change within the Canadian sport system; Dr. Katie Lebel, assistant professor at Ryerson University, whose research focuses on gender equity in sport, with a particular emphasis on branding and consumer behavior; and Laura Stacey, a former hockey player who won gold at the 2012 IIHF World Women’s Under-18 Championships, before preparing for the silver medal team at the Women’s World Championships in the IIHF 2017.

The event follows the Tokyo Olympics, which despite being billed as the most equal games ever, was marked by controversy after female gymnastics and beach volleyball athletes drew attention to the double standard that exists in certain sports. , in which women are required to wear light clothing, unlike men.

In a year when female basketball players in the March Madness tournament called out the NCAA for its woefully inadequate training facilities compared to the men, when the United States women’s soccer team battled for – and earned – a salary equal to that of their male counterparts, when female gymnasts continue to denounce years of systematic sexual abuse by the U.S. national team doctor and, in recent days, the third coach of the United States. The National Women’s Soccer League since August has been sacked for allegations of sexual misconduct, it’s clear that despite the progress that has been made, female athletes still face a culture of sexism – or worse – that is pervasive .

“I think creating a safe and abuse-free space is extremely important in sport,” Raffo said. “You would be surprised what women are still struggling with. It seems crazy and almost ridiculous to me that they have to wear bikini bottoms while beach volleyball. The spirit is mind boggling. Even when some sports federations make rules, I don’t know anyone who watches them very well. ”

Even in Whistler, known for its progressive mindset, there remains a largely male-dominated sports scene that can create barriers to entry for girls and women, said Lauren Hamm, WSS Grade 11 student. who helped organize and market the event.

“If you’re invited for a bike ride and you’re with a bunch of these guys who’ve been biking for a long time, you’re still not sure what your abilities are because they’re so male dominated. It’s always on you all the time and you’re wondering, “How will they see me?” I’m not as good as them, ”she said.

It highlights the importance of including guys in the conversation, said Hugo Steiner, grade 12 student and organizer.

“It cannot be just a women’s problem because it’s everyone’s problem,” he noted. “It should be mostly women, but you also have to have guys standing up for them and joining in on them.”

Maya Serdinands, a grade 11 student and organizer, said the event is especially aimed at young girls, like the 11-year-old who wondered why she couldn’t find women’s football on the television watch face.

“For young girls, they may have seen the inequality in sport, but they don’t know they can make a difference,” she said.

The event is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Maury Young Arts Center, and tickets are $ 10, available at myzonetickets.com/whistleridg2021. There is also a live broadcast ticket option, by donation. With a silent auction with a prize of $ 500, all proceeds will go directly to the Howe Sound Women’s Center and the Shoe Project.


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