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Value of women's sport finally being recognised: Our Watch CEO Mary Barry

February 02 2017 By Hannah Grant, Media Manager, Our Watch

With the AFL Women’s League kicking off its inaugural season yesterday, a pay parity agreement between male and female rookie players confirmed and media coverage increasing, the value of women in sport is finally being acknowledged, Our Watch CEO Mary Barry said today.

“This is important because evidence shows that the key driver of violence against women is gender inequality. It has been recognised in many countries that sport can be a force to amplify women's voices and tear down gender barriers and discrimination,” she said. 

“Both female and male sports leaders are community role models for many, particularly young people. They have an opportunity to call out sexism and inequality - to set the tone, and the example, for others to follow.

“This is one of the many reasons we are excited to announce that Sabrina Frederick–Traub, from the Brisbane Lions, and Chelsea Randall, from the Adelaide Crows, have joined Our Watch as Ambassadors for our youth campaign, The Line,” said Ms Barry. 

Sabrina Frederick–Traub said that as the standing of women in sport increases, sporting codes and players must acknowledge the influence they can have in society.

 “Violence and disrespect have no place on or off the field. Nor does gender inequality. Whether in sport or wider society, initiatives to create an equal playing field for men and women, boys and girls, should be championed,” she said.

“I love everything about sport. However, it’s important to me that aspiring female sports stars can see people like them reflected in the game. This is why it’s great the AFL has recently taken steps towards equality and laid solid foundations for the future of women’s football,” said Ms Fredrick–Traub.

Ms Barry said that young people need to see that women can lead as players, and they deserve the same recognition and media coverage as their male counterparts.

“Young girls will not strive to be what they cannot see. The more we amplify the voices of our female athletes the more we challenge rigid stereotypes and barriers to participation,” she said. 

According to research from The Line, young people are struggling to work out what respectful, healthy and equal intimate relationships look like.

“Our evidence tells us that 1 in 4 young people aged 12 to 24 holds attitudes that put them at risk of perpetrating, excusing or tolerating violence against women,” said Ms Barry.

“The same research tells us that there is an absence of clear, positive role models for young people regarding equal and respectful relationships. Our Ambassadors promote positive and respectful behaviour on and off the field, I have no doubt this will have an impact on young people,” said Ms Barry.

Ms Frederick–Traub and Ms Randall join existing AFL Ambassadors for The Line, Shaun Burgoyne and Marcus Bontempelli. These announcements are part of the renewal of the Our Watch and AFL Players Association partnership, first announced in 2015.

Media contact:

Hannah Grant, Media and Ambassador Program Manager, Our Watch: 0448 844 930 or hannah.grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”

Read guides for reporting about violence against women and their children.

About Our Watch

Our Watch’s purpose is to raise awareness and engage policy-makers and the Australian community in action to prevent violence against women and their children.

To do this the organisation works to increase gender equality and respect in all aspects of everyday life, such as through schools; workplaces; media; sporting organisations; social marketing, and developing and influencing public policy.

Our Watch’s work derives from the government’s commitment to the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 and gives expression to many of the activities in the Second Action Plan 2013–2016 – Moving Ahead.