It is time to make the invisible visible

Girls and women with disability are role models and their stories shall be shared

Sports, as we know, is a global phenomenon. It is seen, heard and felt in every single country, in every single city and in almost every single little village around the world. However, the game is missing players. Girls and women, especially girls and women with a disability are largely invisible.

A briefing presentation to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) took place on the 18th of February in Geneva. This is the initial stage of a collaborative process to ensure that the physical education, physical activity and sport sector is represented and in alignment with the key asks of Human Rights Bodies.

A strong and unified message was delivered: "We are calling on CEDAW to work with us to leverage the treaty instrument in support of current global actions to increase the realisation of human rights in sport and through sport starting with the most vulnerable and leaving no one behind".

UNESCO Chair Project Manager Catherine Carty led the presentation on behalf of a global sectoral movement, together with Niina Toroi, the Chair of ENGSO’s Equality Within Sports Committee. Niina is the European representative at the International Working Group on Women and Sport, and thereby represented IWG at the meeting.

Catherine Carty and Niina Toroi in Geneva

Sport is written into the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights

IWG is a global network of sport professionals, advocates, researchers, athletes and leaders. IWG has worked since 1994 with the aim to empower women and girls to advance sports. With 562 sports organisations having signed the IWG’s Brighton 1994, and Brighton + Helsinki 2014 Declaration, IWG is a leading sports network promoting gender equality in the world. By signing the Declaration, organisations such as the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, FIFA and WADA have agreed to promote and advance sporting opportunities for girls and women.

Therefore, having IWG at the same UN discussion tables together with UNESCO, gives a strong signal that the sporting community is committed to advance the sporting opportunities for girls and women with a disability. In addition, governmental institutions shall support the efforts to truly consider sport as a right that belongs to everyone, regardless of religion, nationality or gender. Everyone should have an equal opportunity to take part in sport everywhere and on every level.

Despite positive changes that the global sport movement have established over the last two decades, girls and women with a disability in sport still lag behind. They are not only invisible in action and portrayal, but in research as well.

As a global network, the IWG has the capability to reach out across continents and countries. With the world’s best-known sport organisations on board, our starting point is clear: