Generally speaking, during any sport activity have a look around – how many women with disabilities do you see?
Do women with disabilities hold leadership positions in your sports committees or sport? Are there female coaches?
Chances are women are well represented on the field, but what about the management committee or Board? Or are there more women serving food in the sports committees
There was a time when sports leadership was the sole domain of men, with women mostly relegated to food preparation and cheering quietly from the sidelines. However, there still remains an imbalance compared to men’s experience in sport. So, what do you need to know and what can you do?
Thankfully, gender equity in sport has gathered momentum in recent times. In recent past women leaders have emerged for instance the vice president of football Kenya, the women basketball coach of Kenya who is from Australia, Radul sport media personality, Agnes of the Paralympics committee etc.
Unfortunately, there is no existence of literature on women participation in sports in global south and around the world examining the barriers faced by women and girls with disabilities when it comes to getting involved
and staying involved in organized sport.
8. The right to participate in sports is not explicitly reflected in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, although it is considered under the right
to health (A/HRC/32/33, paras. 7–10). Article 13 (c) of the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination against Women recognizes the right to participate in
recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life. Article 31 of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of the child to rest and leisure, and to engage in
play and recreational activities. Article 30 (5) of the Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities made advances in this direction, specifying key factors regarding the
enjoyment of the right by persons with disabilities.
9. International organizations have addressed the right of persons with disabilities to
engage in physical activity and sports. The UNESCO International Charter of Physical
Education, Physical Activity and Sport, revised in 2015, stresses that practising “physical
education, physical activity and sport is a fundamental right for all” without discrimination,12
and highlights the need for “inclusive, adapted and safe opportunities to participate [in those
activities for] persons with disabilities …”13 In order to implement this Charter, member
States adopted the Kazan Action Plan.
In addition, WHO has issued recommendations on
sport and physical activity for persons with disabilities.14
13 Article 1 and subparagraph 1.3.
14 See the WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour.
15 Following discussions by the Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International
Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities, at
its sixth, seventh and eighth sessions, of draft articles 12, 24 and 29, phrases such as “to the extent
possible”, “to the maximum extent possible” and “as appropriate” were deleted from the final drafts
prior to the adoption of the Convention, being considered qualifiers related either to State capacity
and resources to implement the right or to exclusion of certain persons with disabilities on the basis of
their impairment from a given measure or system (for example, inclusive education). See A/60/266,
A/AC.265/2006/2 and A/61/611.
16 At that point of the discussions, such proposals were concerned with not ruling out disability-specific
events. This issue was finally solved by including “disability-specific” in the text of article 30 (5) (b).
See A/60/266, para. 144; see also the daily summary of Ad Hoc Committee’s discussion at its seventh
session for 27 January 2006 (available at www.un.org/esa/socdev/enable/rights/ahc7sum27jan.htm),
approximately Unfortunately, in the last Friday human right council there was no African civil societies nor government representations on sports for persons with disabilities
The voice of sports organizations for persons disabilities in the global south were not heard or seen.
This is evidently clear in its resolution 43/23, the Human Rights Council requested the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to prepare a study on the rights of
persons with disabilities on participation in sport under article 30 of the Convention on Rights
of Persons with Disabilities, in consultation with States and other relevant stakeholders,
including civil society organizations, and to make the study available to the Council prior to
its forty-sixth session. The Council also requested that stakeholders’ contributions and the
present report be made available in an accessible format. Pursuant to the Council’s request,
OHCHR solicited contributions and received 23 responses from States, 3 from United
Nation’s entities and 10 from civil society organizations. They are available on the OHCHR
bodily movement produced upcoming UNDP 2021 forum Africa Paralympians will not get their voices to be hard.
what are the barriers?
Think about whether these might be an issue in your club
or sports organization.
What are the barriers in sports inclusion?
They include attitudinal, physical and institutional barriers.
• Concern about appearance and body image
• Self-conscious in sports uniforms
•stigma and discrimination,
Inaccessible venues Social stereotyping and harassment
• Limited role models due to poor media coverage
• Lack of skills or perceived lack of skills
• Male dominated sports culture
• Peer pressure
• Lack of girls-only groups
• May prefer to be non-competitive
• Family commitments
• Study and work time pressures
• Lack of childcare
What motivates and enables female participation in sport?
Understanding and even addressing barriers is only part of the story. We also need to understand the reasons why women and girls with disabilities might choose to get involved
Women’s participation in sport and physical activity is influenced by many different things and this changes over time.
what do we do to open doors for women with disabilities to take on senior management roles in sport? What resources are available? Why do we need women in leadership?
positions? How can sports committees be part of the solution?
Play by the Rules has devised a short list of ideas to help your sports committees or sport organization encourage more women to get involved in leadership:
Diversity is a key to success. We can learn a lot from the world of business, where many companies understand that diverse Boards lead to better decision-making
and greater long-term success. Take the time to review
spots committees policies, making sure they accurately reflect your sports committee’s commitment to anti-discrimination
practice and diversity at all levels.
Regulate to bring about change. Like government, sports committees can regulate the number of women who should sit on committees and Boards. Set a target above current
levels and a timeframe in which to achieve it (
e.g., 40 per cent of Board positions will be filled by women by 2025)
as a public scholar I observe There is a world-wide push to empower women in all areas of business and sport, and a wealth of resources to draw on. These efforts should be streamlined to ensure women with disabilities are not left behind as in the normal circumstances in the women movement.
I believe women with disabilties have great potential which has not been tested or granted the opportunity to showcase.
This article is drawn from my professional expertise at the Dadaab refugee camp where inclusive sports started and personal experience as blind sport administrator in Kenya and the only blind cricket player in east Africa.
Join us in the disability sausage YouTube channel for much mouthwatering articles
The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”