MARCH 8TH AND THE FIGHT FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS
For centuries, women have had to fight to be recognized as equal to men. In Angela Davis's words: "Feminism is the radical idea that women are people."
On March 8, 1909, 15,000 women workers demonstrated in New York to demand better working conditions, equal pay, and the right to vote. From that day on, March 8 became a symbol of the fight for women's rights.
On this special day, we demand equality in all aspects of our private, public, and work lives. We rebel against all forms of gender discrimination and against the violence we suffer because of being a woman. We don't want to be brave; we want to be free! And we want to give a voice to all women who don't have it.
NOT MAN, NOT WOMAN: ATHLETES!
Discrimination against women in sport is obvious.
In 2019, only 59% of Spanish sports federations had a plan to prevent and combat gender inequality, and only 25% of women held positions in the governing bodies of all federations.
We still hear sexist insults in the stands or comments that differentiate between “boys’ sports” and “girls’ sports”.
Despite everything, there has been progress. Many women did not hesitate to defy the status quo. Like Katherine Switzer, when in 1967, defied the prohibition that prevented women from competing in a marathon. Or the women of Barça’s women's first team who played their first game on December 25, 1970, at the Camp Nou.
Nowadays, more and more girls are playing sports, and women's sports are emerging from the shadows, especially when it comes to the elite sections. But there is still a long way to go to achieve equality in the world of sports.
Economic, social, and media coverage differences between men's and women's sports are huge. In the case of Spanish professional soccer, it was not until last year, and only after weeks of strike, that women reached an agreement establishing a minimum salary of € 16,000 gross per year for female players. By comparison, the annual gross minimum wage for male players is € 155,000; that is, almost 10 times more.
WOMEN'S SOCCER, A LEADER IN THE FIGHT
Since 2015, many efforts led by national women's soccer teams have emerged, from Norway to Ireland and from Nigeria to Australia.
The greatest contribution to the fight has undoubtedly been the involvement of the United States’ women's soccer team, currently the best team in the world. In 2016 and 2019 the team filed a complaint against the US Soccer Federation for wage discrimination and demanded equality in work conditions in addition to a payment of US $67 million in compensation.
Finally, it was the courts that decided to guarantee significant advances in salaries and an agreement regarding equal playing conditions, travel, and recognition of the team. Although with this change the U.S. women's soccer team became an example for many women's sports sections, the fight is not over.
The differences in monetary awards worldwide, especially in soccer, are still significant. FIFA distributed US $400 million in prizes for the 2018 Men's Soccer World Cup, compared to US $30 million for the 2019 Women's World Cup.
SETBACK WITH THE PANDEMIC, BUT THE FIGHT CONTINUES
The pandemic has severely punished women's sports, which have been the most affected by the crisis caused by the health emergency, either for economic reasons, because clubs are not strong, or because women who are professional athletes have more precarious contracts.
In addition, the differences in the treatment of men's and women's championships have implied a significant setback in the visibility of women's sports and for equality, especially among non-professional sections, which have had to stop all activity due to health measures.
Although March 8 strikes are increasingly massive, and despite the fact that many things have changed in our society and in the world of sports, we must not forget that there is still a long way to go.
We want to celebrate this year’s March 8th rejoicing in all that has been achieved, while continuing to demand and fight to put an end to gender discrimination and achieve real equality.
Have a great March 8th!