Sport of tomorrow: diversity as horizon? – Panel discussion before the Gay Games

On 1–3 August, in the lead-up to the 10th Gay Games in Paris, several conferences were held about sport and diversity co-organised by the Organising Committee of the Games and the Think Tank Sport and Citizenship. On the last day of the academic debates, our Policy Director, Kaisa Larjomaa took part in the panel discussion on gender equality and diversity in sport.

The panel consisted of Larjomaa and four other experts, namely Philippe Loitard from the University of Lyon, Marie-Françoise Potereau from the Femix’Sports Association and Nathalie Huet from the French Badminton Federation.

Coaching is one of the many areas of sport lagging behind in terms of gender equality. Kaisa Larjomaa presented ENGSO’s Erasmus+ co-funded SCORE project from 2015-2016, which aimed at increasing the number of female coaches in Europe. SCORE project created tools to help sports organisations attract more women as coaches, as well as mentoring to push forward individuals on their professional paths.

Kaisa Larjomaa presenting SCORE (photo: Andrej Pišl)

The panel and the audience had a lively debate about gender equality in a very wide scope. Negative gender stereotypes, the lack of role models, structural barriers, as well as outright discrimination prevent women, especially non-white or non-cis women, and persons of other genders from fully participating in and contributing to sport and physical activity.

The panel recognised the continued need for legislation, economic incentives, mentoring and other efforts to push women forward.

"In order to create change, the sports movement needs pressure from the outside and the inside. Women have to support each other and create networks to help each other move on further", Larjomaa commented.

The Gay Games is the world’s largest sporting and cultural event that is open to all. Its tenth edition is running 4–12 August in Paris where over 10 000 participants compete in 36 sports. To stay up-to-date about the Games, follow the @Paris2018 account on Facebook and Twitter.

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