“Anything is possible” was the message from Clare Balding to women in sport today.
Back in 2013, when Liberty Insurance made a commitment to hurling and camogie, we also assumed a responsibility to drive the profile of women in sport. So last month we held ‘An Audience with Clare Balding’ in Croke Park and invited a number of key Irish sports and business influencers to discuss the challenges and opportunities around Women in Sport in Ireland today. It was the perfect event to reveal the results of WISE UP, a body of research we commissioned surrounding these issues.
WISE UP, undertaken with Millward Brown and Onside Marketing, found that although more women (55%) are active than men (45%), there is still concerning levels of female participation in team sports, particularly among schoolgirls, where only 45% took part, compared with 64% of boys.
To address this widening gender gap, we launched Support Her Sport, a new initiative to get parents actively involved in their daughters’ sports, either as participants or spectators. Balding launched the campaign live on stage by sending a tweet to her 500,000+ followers and it was great to see the #supporthersport hashtag trending in Ireland right throughout the day.
Anything is possible but you have to make it happen by asking
The day was a great success and presenter, author and former jockey Balding proved there was no better woman to get the message out. In a great on-stage chat with Rob Hartnett from Sport for Business, she covered everything from why she believes women’s sport should be front and centre, to her brave decision to present the first ever Women’s Boat Race instead of the Grand National. “Anything is possible but you have to make it happen by asking” she told the packed audience that included Jacqui Hurley, Evanne Ní Chuillinn, Fiona Coghlan and Niamh Briggs.
She was then joined on stage by Sonia O’Sullivan, Group Head of RTÉ Sport Ryle Nugent and Robin McGhee from Millward Brown, for a rigorous debate about media coverage of women’s sport. Sonia summed it up nicely when she simply stated “What women’s sport needs is to be seen as important”.
What women’s sport needs is to be seen as important
The audience left really inspired and ready to do whatever they can, and we hope you will too. So please watch this space…
In the meantime, make a difference, please pledge to bring your daughter, niece, sister or cousin to a women's sporting event in 2015. Tweet your pledge using #supporthersport, and tagging @libertyirl.