Horseracing gets more coverage than female sports, found a research report commissioned by the Federal Government.
It’s a harsh reality at times, but Olympic Gold medallist Tessa Parkinson soon realised that sports was seen as a ‘must do’ for guys and more of an ‘option’ for girls.
Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson held an inspiring, International Women’s Day Breakfast.
Tessa along with Nina Funnell, antiviolence campaigner, shared their extraordinary journeys.
Tessa began sailing at eight years of age, not through her school, but through her local yacht club.
She climbed the ladder quickly, but not without hurdles on the way.
“I think the sporting clubs pay more of a dominant role in general than the schools. It’s a lot easier for girls to skip sport, it’s not a credit and possibly there are less team sport options for girls as well. For girls there needs to be that competitive edge, team based sports or groups to participate in together so it’s social or fun.”
Tessa said that more options need to be available to young girls in schools such a tennis, swimming, cycling – the same pinnacle as what’s offered at the Olympics, a sport that has more profile and exposure.
A gap lies in men having the ability to make a long-term career out of sport, but women tend to have children and in terms of financial support they have less option.
And a gap still exists with sexual ethics in education.
After the White Ribbon Foundation confirmed one in seven boys think it’s ok to hold a girl down and have sex with her if she has flirted, Nina Funnell asserted the urgency for the inclusion of sex ethics and relationships in the curriculum.
The social commentator and freelance writer, knows too closely the importance of consent after her terrifying experience, which nearly cost Nina her life.
Nina who currently writing her PHD about sexting and the role of sexual ethics education, said schools spend too much time concentrating on the biology of reproduction and STD’s and not enough time focussing on the untouched issues of relationships and the importance of consent.
“I think that we need to develop education programs that targets those 1 in 7 boys and addresses attitudes, rather than a program that always targets the girls. It always programs for females that teach self defence and learning to say no, but how can you say no when the question hasn’t been asked.”
Nina suggests Moira Carmody’s sex and ethics program from the University of Western Sydney, which was developed in consultation with young people.
After identifying the fundamental concerns and tailoring the program to young people’s needs, the program was rigorously evaluated and it’s proven to be successful in changing not only attitudes but also behaviours.
“With my cyber research one of the things that I’m arguing is that if you take an issue like sexting, it is currently being taught in cyber safety programs along with things like Nigerian money scams, identity theft, password protection. When your talking to teenagers about their sexting habits it fits in with dating, and relationships etc. Sexting actually fits in better with sex and relationship education not Nigerian money scams.”
With a need for a greater focus on gender and sexuality, current cyber safety courses ignore gender.
“If you look at sexting, its an activity that occurs within space that is highly gendered. Why is it that girls’ images are shared to shame, where as boys images aren’t? Why is there a double standard?”
These are the issues that need to be addressed said Nina.
These two inspiring women are helping to contribute to a day of change.