When reviewing the issues that are based on gender discrimination in sports, one can see that lack of awareness of cultural backgrounds, media representation, awards, and training opportunities are the main problems that contribute to the inequality in sports and a lesser number of women athletes. Since this problem is multifaceted, the solution to it has to include a set of policies rather than one specific law. It should require the active participation of international sports organizations. This chapter will compare legal practices from different countries to illustrate how states address discrimination against women in sports, including European countries, the United States, and countries in Asia. Additionally, other measures that can help protect women include the development of platforms that advocate for women participating in sports activities. A governmental agency that would help address this problem will be reviewed to create a wholesome strategy for ending discrimination against women in sports globally.
Laws for Ending Gender Discrimination in Sports
Enactment of laws and policies that prohibit discrimination against sports should help address the issue. The first step is to develop a regulation that clearly outlines the prohibition of hindering women from accessing sports facilities, participating in sports, both professionally and as amateurs, accepted internationally, and by individual states. This regulation should be developed with the existing legal documents that address discrimination against women more broadly. They are reviewed in the following sections of Chapter 3. The second step is to check the current regulations that govern national sports competitions and take out parts that would directly or indirectly restrict women’s access to these competitions. For example, Islam and some other religions regulate how women dress and their ability to appear in public with men, which in many cases means that women cannot take part in competitions where sports attires require them to expose their bodies, such as swimming or when they have to compete in the same location as men. Respecting religion and creating appropriate conditions is the only proper way of addressing this disparity. Since historically, sports and professional sports were considered something suitable for men only, these competitions’ rules and regulations fail to address women’s needs. Therefore, the author of this chapter offers to implement a law that bans discrimination against women and includes an administrative responsibility to ensure that organizations or people who violate this regulation are held accountable.
It is essential to ensure that the regulations and regulatory agencies pay attention to the discrimination against women based on religion and their religious beliefs as a separate and serious issue in professional sports.
Another proposal is that these organizations develop programs to help women enroll in sports and social awareness campaigns to target the discrimination that women athletes face due to the common belief that sports are only for males. The next section will describe some of the laws and treaties that are already enacted to support female athletes or prohibit gender discrimination. These laws further point out that this female discrimination is deeply rooted in the way many of the societal structures are built and requires an active development of rules and regulations to combat it.
The ways of addressing media coverage issues with women’s sports will be discussed. In terms of TV, women’s sports events are less often broadcasted and gain less attention than competitions where men participate. One approach is to force equal broadcasting to make quotas regarding the amount of time TV programs dedicate to highlighting women’s sports activities.
One solution for ending gender-based discrimination in sports is the cooperation with international organizations and the enactment of treaties and agreements that target this problem. This chapter will also review the application of the laws and policies in the Arab countries, considering the specifics of the Isam and how it impacts women’s participation in sports. Chapter 3 will examine best practices for ending gender discrimination in sports and offer strategies for addressing the existing discriminatory practices, including laws prohibiting gender discrimination, agencies that help women in sports, and programs that support women athletes.
First, comparative law will be examined to determine how different states approached the issue of gender discrimination in sports and what strategies prove to be the most effective. The majority of treaties and regulations in this section are developed by international organizations and enacted as part of the state’s declaration to support human rights.
Currently, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, and the International Covenant on Social, Economic, and Cultural Rights are the leading institutions involved in addressing the issue of discrimination in sports (United Nations, n.d.). CEDAW is concerned with overseeing the implementation and use of the Convention Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. According to the Committee’s website, most states globally have enacted anywhere from 5 to all 18 treaties from the Convention on human rights (United Nations, n.d.). This Convention, in particular, was enacted in 1979, and it contains six parts and thirty articles. Part II of this Convention, in particular, outlines the women’s roles and rights in different social spheres including sports and becoming a professional athlete. According to this act, and article 10 specifically, women should have equal access to education and sports, including scholarships, and states should take measures to reduce drop-out rates of female students. Presumably, the final part was included due to the stereotypical treatment of women and restrictions that society places on their education and career choices. Article 15 declares the equality of men and women before the law, which should also result in equal treatment in relation to sports and sports opportunities.
However, sports is not the only domain where women faced discrimination, which prompted international organizations and governments to create treaties that specifically target the protection of rights for this population. As a result, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women specifically mentioned sports as both a part of cultural life and recreational activity and requires states to provide opportunities for women to engage in these activities. This treaty is perhaps the single legal document that was developed explicitly due to international agencies recognizing the inconsistency in the way men and women are treated in different domains of life since, unlike with the other declarations, its creators specifically assessed the needs of women. Moreover, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women specifically mentioned sport as one of the domains where women face discrimination to this day (Burchfield, 2014).
Another legal treaty that also highlights the right of women to access sports in the context of general requests that humans have is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Next, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a validation of the idea that discriminatory treatment of people because of their gender identity is wrongful and cannot be tolerated. On the international level, discrimination is prohibited by this declaration and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization Sports Charter. The Human Rights declaration is perhaps one of the central documents that regulate the way states treat people of different religions, cultures, genders, and backgrounds. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights’s Article 1 cites the universal right of all people to access physical education (Burchfield, 2014). The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization Sports Charter was created in support of the Human Rights Declaration and used Article 1 as the basis of its work towards promoting sports activities and physical education. Here, a connection between a legal act and a platform that supports its development is clearly illustrated, suggesting that it is insufficient to develop and enact laws merely. It is vital to establish government and international organizations responsible for ensuring that the rules are followed.
One example of global regulation of sports is The Olympic Charter, which declares that sports are one of the human rights, implying that no individual should be prohibited from participating in sports (Burchfield, 2014). This is the primary document that governs the Olympic Games and Movement, and the role of the International Olympic Committee is outlined in it. There are no specific mentions of how the Olympic Movement addresses gender inequality, suggesting a need to review the document and implement changes to declare that this movement supports women athletes.
Most of the international conventions do not explicitly mention sports as a domain that should be free of gender discrimination, but their statements implicitly point to the necessity of providing equal opportunities for all people. For instance, International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights confirms that all individuals have a right to receive education, which is the basis of Article 13, while Article 15 promotes the accessibility of cultural life (Burchfield, 2014). Sports can be viewed from the perspective of cultural activity and education. Therefore it is implied that prohibiting women from having access to opportunities to participate in sports is a violation of this international treaty. Here, the fact that sports and participation in physical development, including competitions, is a basic human necessity and this right that must be promoted by the governments alongside cultural, economic, and social development.
Hence, globally there are plenty of organizations concerned with ensuring that sports and access to sports are equal for both genders. However, some issues with the way female athletes are treated on a professional level and some discrimination towards Muslim female athletes, for example, for their choice to wear hijab continue to persist. This section will outline some of the laws that support women’s rights to participate in sports and compete professionally and offer some steps for ending discrimination in sports.
As can be seen from the variety of treaties and declarations of human rights, it is commonly accepted that women have the right to access sports as a recreational activity and an educational opportunity. However, in reality, many females face discrimination, unequal pay, and the inability to have access to training in sports. Hence, the declaration of these rights has to be supported by laws enforced by governmental agencies that address the specific problem — insufficiency of opportunities for women who want to do sports, especially for those who wish to become professional athletes or coaches. Another suggestion is developing a legal treaty, created by an international organization for human rights, such as the UN, which will specifically address discrimination in sports, since it “contributes significantly to fitness, health, the economy, and self-development, teaching us values and skills like discipline, teamwork, respect and perseverance” (European Commission on Sports, 2014). Hence, addressing sports inequalities directly and explicitly is making a contribution to women’s health, wellbeing, and self-development, which can be achieved by states signing a legal treaty that declares their readiness to collaborate in creating a welcoming environment for female athletes.
Hence, this section reviewed some laws and treaties that were created by an international organization to address different forms of discrimination, and that was enacted in many countries across the world, either partially or fully. Next, the specifics of laws in the European Union (EU) and the United States will be examined to have more state-specific examples that Qatar can use.
Comparative Law: Laws in Europe and the US
To reduce prejudice against women in sports, the Treaties and Conventions discussed above must be translated into national laws, and it is imperative that national organizations that support the implementation of these laws and develop programs targeting the performance of them are created. Some examples that are already enacted in other states will be reviewed in this section.
In Europe, the European Sports Charter addresses the basic premises of sports activities in the EU states. In Article 4, revised in 2001, it is stated that access to sports facilities and activities cannot be restricted on the basis of gender, religion, social status, or other qualities of an individual (Burchfield, 2014). The implication here is that women, similarly to men and people of different religions and backgrounds, should have an equal right and an opportunity to do sports professionally and come to sports arenas, fields, or other facilities. This legal document also addresses this pressing issue in women sports, which is the fair pay and the gap between the financial compensation that female athletes receive in comparison to males. More specifically, uniformity, fairness, and impartiality are cited in this Charter as the basis for establishing fair conditions for all people willing to participate in sports and women in particular. The Charter also addresses other issues that affect women, such as fair pay, doping use, and violence.
Most regulations are in effect in the EU target sports in general and promote principles such as fairness, equal opportunity, and respect. One example is the European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehavior at Sports Events and, in particular, at Football Matches created as a response to deaths and violence during a football match in 1985 (Burchfield, 2014). Moreover, the European Union Council has enacted a plethora of policies to ensure that sports competitions do not end in violence, most of which target football in particular. Here, in comparison to the United States, one must note that the EU targeted a large number of policies to end typical problems that happen during football matches, perhaps because this is the most popular sport in the region. The United States does not have specific regulations that would target violence during sports matches. However, both the EU and the US pay attention to anti-doping regulations, having similar approaches to policies that make the use of dopping illegal in professional sports. One conclusion that can be made from this analysis is that since governmental agencies were able to respond to pressing issues of violence in sports competitions and ensure fairness through anti-doping policies, it seems that the only reasonable next step is to address the women’s participation in sports.
Upon the examination and evaluation of different solutions, there are some suggestions regarding how these can be applied in Qatar.
The next section will use the reviewed laws to examine and evaluate the solutions and choose the most useful and practical solution to explain how one can apply them in Qatar.
In the United States, the question of representation within the sports community has been the focus of attention in recent years. For example, the National Women’s Team has taken legal action against the United States Soccer Association because of the difference in financial compensation that men and women received (Tracy, Crouse, & Futterman, 2019). Moreover, in the lawsuit, the lawyers note that the female soccer team won the World Cup, while the male team failed to qualify for this competition. This suggests that the problem of discrimination is not merely an issue of laws that prohibit women from participating in sports activities and competing professionally, but it is also a cultural and societal problem where the female sport is viewed as inferior. Arguably, the only way to promote female sports considering these conditions is by establishing legal practices and supporting women in sports.
The most prominent law that opposes discrimination in the United States is Title IX (Whalen, 2017). It was enacted in 1972 with the aim of ensuring that higher education institutions do not discriminate against women, which had an effect on college sports participation as well. The central premise of Title IX is that college sports opportunities have to be proportionate to the number of students and the characteristics of this population. However, Whalen (2017) notes that colleges and governmental institutions fail to enforce these regulations, which is why the lawsuits such as the National Women’s Team versus United States Soccer Association happen.
Another legal treaty that also highlights the right of women to access sports enacted in the United States is the Omnibus Education Act of 1972, which outlines the opportunity of both males and females to access funding for education (Scheadler and Wagstaff, 2018). As a result, both genders should be able to have an equal chance of receiving funds necessary to obtain an education and one of the central elements of knowledge in sports education. As a result, it appears that the United States target the protection of equal opportunity — both genders, regardless of the backgrounds that an individual have, their financial or social status, religion, or other attributes should be able to engage in sports, starting at school, and further proceed on making it a professional career. Scheadler and Wagstaff (2018) state that the changes made by the Title IX and other regulations in the US “200,000 intercollegiate women and three million girls that participated in sports in 2010” (p. 1). This suggests that proper rules and legally outlining the possibilities that women can have to allow them to pursue more opportunities, in this case, by participating in sports during the time when they receive formal education at school.
Whalen (2017) cites The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) as an association concerned with sports equality in the United States. TIDES’ main concern is to ensure that workplaces have an equal distribution of genders and minorities depending on the total number of the employees, which is also applicable to sports. TIDES also developed a grading system corresponding to the Title IX requirements and evaluated sports teams in the United States, where the majority received a grade “F,” which means that most sports teams have male coaches as opposed to hiring female coaches.
Another legal document in the United States is the American Convention on Human Rights. Similar to other conventions that were developed by an international organization, this one addresses sports as an essential recreational and educational activity and declares it a fundamental human right. Whalen (2017) cites this Convention explicitly as one of the core documents that guide the United States’ fight for equality in sports.
Clearly, the majority of the reviewed regulations and treaties were developed by Western countries and are suitable for this particular culture and religious context, although some of the legal documents can be adapted to the context of Asian states as well. The most useful solution for Qatar is to adopt the strategies used by the US government and non-profit organizations that aim to collect information about the ratio of women and men in sports and propose different ways of promoting female sports on the national level. However, first and foremost, as the regulations in both the US and EU demonstrate, the Qatari government has to ensure that the right of females to access sports, beginning with the physical education of girls in schools and sports in colleges and universities, is a universal right. This should open doors for the development of education programs and allows schools and universities to obtain funding from the government to build new sports facilities for women and hire female coaches.
Another example of a solution based on the legal action taken by the government in other states is a platform that would advocate for the support of women in sports is a governmental administration. It is imperative that Qatar should create an organization that will address two key issues —promotion women participating in sports through advocacy and development of programs and facilities, and enforcement of regulations that would protect women who want to become professional athletes. As one can witness by the example of the United States, even countries where gender discrimination in general and in sports, in particular, is prohibited by laws, some cultural and social barriers emerge, which do not allow women-athletes to earn and gain as much exposure as their male colleagues.
The next step is illuminating the barriers on the global level that hinder women who want to do sports on the international level, without focusing on the issues pertaining to a particular country.
Solutions for Ending Discrimination in Sports used in Different Regions
From the literature review, it becomes apparent that one problem of sports in the Asian region is the social discouragement, which is widespread in Qatar in particular, and dependence of sports on state support. Hence, there are two steps to the process of making sports a more appropriate field: promotion and social support of women in sports and ensuring that sports have access to independent funding are not dependants on the help of a state.
Another critical factor is the rules of sports organizations that fail to account for cultural diversity and varied religious beliefs that need to be adjusted. A prominent example is FIFA, which disqualified a women football team from Iran for wearing hijabs in 2011 (Kestler-D’Amours, 2017). The only way of avoiding this problem in the future is reviewing the rules of global and national sports organizations to ensure that they account for the specifics of dress code and behavior that some religions impose on women, such as wearing a particular type of clothing that does not expose one’s body or the need to have separate competitions for men and women. Such an approach is a showcasing of respect for women’s religious beliefs.
Some examples of how the varied organizations in the EU and the United States apply these laws to end discrimination can be used as examples for how Qatar should address the problem. The European Commission issued a statement where in the report published in 2014 for the years 2014-2020, the plans of the commission to end inequality in the field of sports are outlined. Mainly, the European Commission stated that “many women are today still unable to find the right environment in which to develop their full potential” (p. 1). The main issue, as defined by this commission, is the lag in access, since women are not offered the same opportunities as men in terms of accessing sports. Again, this proves that despite the declaration of equality that the EU members have done, there are issues with actually ensuring that equal opportunity is provided. The commission points out that both the attitudes towards women in sports and the sports activities included in the schools’ curriculums are a part of an issue (European Commission on Sport, 2014, p. 2). Hence, the main idea declared by the European Commission is that some changes must be made to the way sports are governed, including the inclusion of women in the decision making boards to ensure that their interests and needs are considered and encouraging women to become coaches to create a friendly environment for girls who want to enroll in sports.
The EU also has other organizations that are devoted to reviewing how women participate in professional sports activities and are preparing reports. The ability to gather data is the key for proper decision making, and arguably, states that want to overcome gender inequality in sports have to begin by establishing organizations responsible for collecting information that will help understand what these issues and barriers and women athletes face are since some problems may be universal, while others may pertain to a particular state. The “Euro barometer on Sport and Physical Activity” is an example of a report of data gathered by interstate organizations reporting that girls are much less engaged in sports when compared to boys, judging by the number of them enrolled in various sports teams and activities.
Moreover, this report shows that there is a substantially lesser number of women in professional sports organizations holding leadership positions when compared to men. Hence, the example of the EU shows that it is essential to have governmental organizations that will gather information about sports inequalities, to both report on issues and track progress, and the need to promote women to leadership positions as a way of advocating for their rights and needs. Therefore, the United States and European Union fight discrimination against females in sports by implementing regulations that establish equality of genders as the basic principle and by selecting governmental agencies.
Effective Solutions for Qatar
The first step that these governments take is the declaration of the problem — a significantly lesser number of women choose to participate in sports activities and become professional athletes. Next, the governmental commissions, such as the Europian Union Commission of Sports, issue an investigation to get data and some insights into why this problem persists to exist. Finally, in the report, this organization recommends some steps, for instance, government-led programs and initiatives. Hence, upon examining the solutions that governments in the United States and the European Union, one can conclude that governmental support is imperative for ending inequalities. An essential element of this support has an organization that will investigate the degree of discrimination that women athletes in Qatar face and the potential ways of addressing this.
Apart from the legal action that the states of the EU and the US take to address the rights of women to participate in sports, the state officials also pat attention to how media impacts the perception of female sports. Scheadler and Wagstaff (2018) applied the Mere Exposure theory to deduce if the current media coverage is what contributes the less attention being dedicated to female sports competition when compared to mele competitions. The premise of the study and the solution that these authors offer is that the more people see a specific type of sport, the more accustomed to it they get, and as a result, they show more interest. Scheadler and Wagstaff (2018) conclude that people exposed to movies depicting female athletes have less prejudice towards female athletes and their participation in professional sports. The recommendation, based on this study, is to promote female competitions and media coverage of female athletes.
The division of media attention and the difference between males and females has been ongoing even since women gained an equal right to participate in sports in the United States. According to Scheadler and Wagstaff (2018), the coverage of female sports was limited until 1992, and to this day, female sports competitions are less frequently broadcasted as opposed to competitions where the majority of participants are males. Hence, although there is some progress in the way female athletes are represented in media, more needs to be done in the form of active promotion for the films and TV programs that broadcast female competitions. MacKenzie (2019) reports that only 4% of female athletes get TV coverage comparable to that of their male colleagues. For example, governmental organizations should support the production of documentaries about female athletes, to demonstrate that they put as much effort and have the same amount of dedication as their male colleagues. As the study by Scheadler and Wagstaff (2018) shows, this should help reduce the prejudice that exists in the society regarding the negative attributes that female athletes may have, as perceived by the general public and address the issue of gender roles, according to which, females should choose traditional occupations.
When reviewing the TV channels that are dedicated to sports only, the proportion of female-only competitions is much smaller when one examines the overall broadcasting time. As a result, having quotas is one way of ensuring that the TV channels create an equal environment for athletes. Currently, the development of a TV program is based on the perceptions and anticipation of which sports activity will gain attention from the audience and which one will not. However, as Scheadler and Wagstaff (2018) note, the adverse societal perceptions of female athletes can be addressed by exposing people to films and content about these professionals. Another example of an initiative that the governments can mimic is by Addidas, who created a media campaign titled “She Breaks Barriers” that aims to increase visibility for female athletes, mainly by encouraging young girls to take up sports. A suggestion for the government in Qatar is to partner with sports brands to hold similar campaigns in this state.
Applying these Laws in Qatar
In Qatar, there are two factors that are contributing to gender discrimination in sports. First, the state is a Muslim country, which means that there is a prejudice against women participating in sports. The women’s role is viewed from the lens of traditional values, which means that the perception of females who want to be professional athletes is rather adverse (Whalen, 2017). One way to overcome this is to create a legal ground for women who want to do sports: outline physical activity as a fundamental right for both men and women and establish foundations for sports education in schools and colleges. In addition, the regulations must be supported by the creation of governmental agencies that will oversee the women’s involvement in sports in Qatar.
Secondly, the due to Islamic traditions, there are some restrictions on the way women behave and dress, which means that there are many specifics regarding the way women dress and appear in public, which may mean that they cannot take part in competitions because they were designed to suit the needs of the male population only. Hence, the focus of the Qatari government should be on creating a welcoming environment for women, where they can participate in sports activities while respecting the state’s traditions and religion, which can be achieved by making it mandatory to hold sports competitions for women that have the rules applicable to their religious beliefs, such as wearing specific attires or having separate competitions for men and women. Moreover, to encourage women to become professional athletes, the government should ensure that there is a sufficient number of women coaches who will support the girls’ physical development in a welcoming manner. Again, due to the state’s traditions and cultural values, having female coaches on teams, at schools, and universities is imperative to supporting females’ stive for professional sports.
From the perspective of legal acts and treaties, similarly to the states in Europe and the United States, the Qatari laws have to include sports as a fundamental right that every citizen should have access to regardless of gender. Moreover, to support this, the government should review its policies for the sports education in schools, since this is the first encounter that most children have with professional sports, with the focus on ensuring that there are enough facilities to accommodate the needs of sports education for girls, including gyms at schools, changing rooms and others. Additionally, for effective integration of Qatari women sports teams into international competitions, it is essential to cooperate with international organizations, for example, FIFA or the Olympic sports committee, to ensure that these organizations can successfully review their policies and enable the participation of Muslim women in their competitions.
Sports Facilities for Muslim Women
One of the barriers for women who want to do sports is religion. Many Muslim countries for a long time prohibited them from participating in sports or incredibly restricted such participation. The prohibition had both a legal and cultural basis and can be overcome by addressing the two sides of the issue. For example, as Case-Levine (2016) explains, Saudi Arabia allowed women to participate in sports only in 2012, while they are still prohibited from competing locally. Hence, although these women represent the state, they do not have an opportunity to gain recognition in their homeland. One way of addressing this is by creating sports facilities designed for women.
In the United Kingdom, Muslim Women in Sports is an organization that deals with the support and promotion of female athletes. The mission of this organization is to “increase the involvement of Muslim women and girls in the sport without compromising their religious or cultural values through catering to and raising awareness of their specific needs” (Muslim Women in Sports, n.d., para. 1). The need for a similar organization in other states, including Qatar, becomes apparent when examining the disparities that Muslim women face, with the FIFA 2011 competition being the most prominent example of this. An organization that advocates for the support of religious beliefs that Muslim women have and ensure that they can train and compete in an environment that suits these needs is essential. Having such an organization on an intergovernmental level is the next step for ensuring equality, not only for women in general but for women of different religions.
The development of sports facilities that is suitable for people of different religions, including Muslim women, is the first step of these solutions. Muslim Women in Sports (n.d.) argues that Muslim women are the most inactive population in sports. This is because most facilities for sports in schools or colleges are not designed to provide safety and intimacy for these women, hindering them from actively engaging in different sports. Hence, the suggestion is to have an assessment of the needs that Muslim women have and the development of sports education programs and investment in new facilities that will account for these needs.
Platforms for Women Athletes
The previous sections suggest that apart from laws and treaties, there is a need to invest in platforms that would specifically target women athletes and monitor the adherence to regulations. Moreover, the implication of creating a venue can have several manifestations, including ensuring that local media, such as newspapers and TVs, allocate space to highlight female sports competitions. Moreover, the Aspire Academy in Qatar should focus on developing female athletes. School curriculums should include lessons where the girls will be explained how to become athletes, the benefit of sports, and ways of creating a professional career.
National Organizations and Platforms
This section is dedicated to the creation of platforms on the national level that will encourage women to participate in sports. As the comparative law analysis showcases, discriminating against women in sports is illegal. However, the existing practices show that international sports organizations, such as FIFA and national institutions that prepare professional athletes are unaware of the struggles that women continue to face or are blind to the women’s needs when it comes to the sports competitions. Hence, a national agency, for example, the Qatari Commission Against Women Discrimination in Sports (QCWDS), may be created to address the concerns.
QCWDS may begin with the first level of discrimination, the barriers that hinder women who would want to become professional athletes but fear being bullied or are scared of not being able to make a living out of doing sports full time. QCWDS’s aim is to fight the stereotype that female sports are inferior, which young girls may have as a result of the impact on their cultural environment. Moreover, these girls should have an understanding that they can do sports and enjoy it, instead of having to overcome barriers to do what they love consistently. This would require investing in the local infrastructure and receiving sports curriculums at schools and colleges. Moreover, since Qatar is a Muslim country, it is necessary for this commission to assess whether the current sports facilities offer enough security for females. They are separated from sports facilities used by men, and whether there are enough female coaches to work with young athletes. Such as a state-wide program is a complex and challenging effort. Still, it is arguably the only way of addressing the inequality that is a result of the historical oppression of women’s rights.
National Platforms: Media Coverage
Media is an essential tool for raising awareness, marking, and promoting social ideas. For women sports, requiring newspapers, especially those that are dedicated to sports, to have a certain number of pages for covering news from women sports can help achieve social awareness.
Next, to address women’s representation on TV, there must be an allocation of screen time for showing women sports. A popular argument for why women athletes earn significantly less than their male colleagues is that their sports competitions do not attract as much attention as those where men participate. However, in many instances, female sports competitions are not shown on TV. It is impossible to expect that female sports will gain following and fans without exposing people to these sports. Hence, under Alkass or Bein Sports channels in Qatar, a separate channel created solely to screen female sports must be completed. Since the endeavor is a social project and it is expected that for some time, the channel will be unprofitable, it is necessary to ensure that the government owns the channel.
Social media and online platforms are becoming some of the most widely used online communication platforms, especially for youth. Hence, social media pages for female sports organizations and competitions should be created on popular platforms, for example, Facebook and Instagram. Social media managers can create content plans and advertising campaigns that will tell the general public about sports and athletes, their work, competition, and other aspects of female sports.
As the analysis by the European Commission on Sports shows, encouraging sports participation in school is the essential strategy for ensuring that females enroll in athletics in the first place and continue to develop in this domain. In Qatar, girls take part in sports education lessons.
Finally, by creating an Aspire Academy for girls, the Qatari government will encourage them to train and develop as professional athletes. This initiative will target establishing a safe environment where they can train alongside other women and be coached by professional female athletes.
Global Level: Eliminate Barriers
This section is dedicated to resolving women athletes’ problems on the global level, with the main focus on promoting the social acceptance and encouragement of women who want to do sports professionally. As the author determined by analyzing barriers in the previous chapters, the existing culture, and history of women being perceived as inferior, together with the expectation that they will live according to the traditional gender roles, continues to impact the way females are treated in different domains of life.
On a global level, one way to end discrimination is to attract more attention to women’s sports. One example is the broadcasting of female competitions. Another example is an advertisement for female sports. The previous chapter reveals that sports discrimination against women is an ongoing issue. Historically, men have had more time and opportunity to raise awareness about male-dominant sports industries, such as football or soccer. Hence, they have a fanbase, willing to pay for the tickets, merchandise, and other items in support of their favorite teams, which is the basis of why men in sports earn more than women. The main idea of a global strategy for ending discrimination against women in sports is to create a similar awareness about female athletes and communicate a message that “female sports are as interesting as those played by men.”
This can be achieved by using marketing tactics and advertising female competitions, explicitly pointing out the benefits or typical misconceptions that the general population may have regarding female sports.
Sports Facilities to Accommodate Muslim Women
Muslim laws place restrictions on the way women are dressed in public and their ability to be in different places. If one wants to achieve true equality, it is necessary to respect this religion and create sports facilities suitable for Muslim women instead of criticizing religion and its practices.
First and foremost, Muslim women have a specific type of attire they wear in public. The global community chose February 1st to recognize the choice that these women make by celebrating the World Hijab Day (London, 2020). As London (2020) discovered through the interviews with Muslim women, wearing a hijab, even in today’s’ society, where females who live in non-Muslim countries can choose is a matter of attesting their religion. This clothing item is a part of their spirituality, however, most sports competitions outline a specific type of outfit that women must wear.
Overall, this section is dedicated to proposing ways of addressing gender discrimination in sports and supporting women who want to do sports either professionally or as amateurs. As the analysis of legal documents and treaties reveals, although on paper, women are declared equal to men in all domains and should be treated similarly, there are many instances of discrimination that they face in sports since there are established belies about the role of a female. This takes away women’s opportunities to engage in sports programs, for example, at school or college, because they may find it challenging to combine sports with other chores or because of prejudice against women in sports committees and competitions. In particular, Muslim women require support in the form of legal acts and national platforms that would help advocate for their rights.
The media coverage of female sports and its legal representation is an integral part of this analysis since media affect the societal beliefs. Through media representation, the viewers can see that female athlete are as competitive and capable as males, providing the former with the fanbase and popularity they deserve. Subsequently, this should help popularise female sports, and this can be achieved by requiring newspapers and TV channels to highlight women’s sports events. As can be seen from this section, discrimination of female athletes is a multifaceted problem that cannot be resolved with a single treaty or legal act and requires an active engagement of governmental organizations, international committees, and international sports organizations to account for the needs of women, including those that are linked to their religion, and the representation of women that would combat the societal prejudice. This chapter’s steps can help Qatar address the needs of women athletes and make sports a fair field.
Burchfield, A. (2014). Update: International sports law. Hauser Global Law School Program. Web.
Case-Levine, J. (2016). Saudi Arabia lets women compete in the Olympics, but bans them from playing sports back home. Web.
European Commission on Sport. (2014). Gender equality in sport: Proposal for strategic action 2014-2020. Web.
Kestler-D’Amours, J. (2017). Ban of hijab-wearing US basketball player sparks furor. Web.
London, B. (2020). Four Muslim women reveal why they choose to wear – or not wear – the hijab in today’s society. Glamour. Web.
MacKenzie, M. (2019). Female athletes receive only 4% of sports media coverage — Addidas wants to change that. Glamour. Web.
Muslim Women in Sports. (n.d.). Index. Web.
Scheadler, T. & Wagstaff, A. (2018). Exposure to women’s sports: Changing attitudes toward female athletes. The Sport Journal. Web.
Tracy, M., Crouse, K., & Futterman, M. (2019). U.S. women’s team takes a stand as gender disparities remain widespread. The New York Times. Web.
United Nations. (n.d.). Ratification of 18 international human rights treaties. Web.
Whalen, K. (2017). Discrimination against women in the sport industry [Unpublished honours thesis]. Eastern Kentucky University.