Such a small word with such a big meaning! Equality is defined as “the right of different groups of people to have a similar social position and receive the same treatment”.
A few weeks ago I was invited with hundreds of others to Government House in Melbourne to celebrate Women in Sport. It was hosted by the Governor of Victoria the Honourable Linda Dessau AC who is the first ever woman in the role. It was a great affair to celebrate all things about females in sport and the fight for equality in the sporting world.
We have come a long way in sport for females, not only in Australia but across the world. For years we have fought to have not only the same rights as men to play sport but for our sport to been seen as equal on the world stage. We are slowly getting there but unfortunately we still have some way to go to be on par with the men.
With the introduction of the Women’s Australian Rules Football league this year we are slowly bridging the gap and it was heard around a number of the playing fields that the women’s game was actually more enjoyable to watch. It was like people were pleasantly surprised that women had the skill!
So I listened intently to our Governor speak highly of our sporting woman and during her speech she mentioned the names of the female Gold medallists from Rio, Kim Brennan in rowing, Chloe Esposito in Modern Pentathlon, Catherine Skinner in Shooting, the women’s Rugby Seven’s and the Women’s Freestyle Relay team in swimming. She then mentioned almost as an afterthought that we had 10 Gold Medallists from the Rio Paralympics. Now I know that many would say that I was being a bit precious, but as a Paralympian who knows about the struggle to be accepted on the same par as an Olympian I honestly thought that if she was going to name the individual gold medallists from the Olympics that she should have done the same with the Paralympian’s. Here we were talking about women’s equality but we are doing the same thing within our own gender.
I approached the Governor and was introduced to her at which time I mentioned my thoughts about this to her. She stated that she didn’t mention the medallists because there were 10. I informed her that no there were 7 individuals that she should have mentioned as a couple were dual medallists and a relay. I then stated that if she had only mentioned the number of Olympic medallists then that would have been fine, it would have been equal. To her credit she apologised, said I was right and that it would never happen again.
If we are going to ask for equality then we have to make sure that we are equal within our own gender and this has to come from the top down. Athletes with a disability are not just a bunch of disabled people giving it a go, they are elite athletes in their own right.
So here I want to publicly acknowledge those women who won individual Gold in Rio during the Paralympics:
Lakeisha Patterson – Swimming
Maddison Elliot – Swimming x 2
Ellie Cole – Swimming
Rachael Watson – Swimming
Tiffany Thomas Kane – Swimming
Katie Kelly – Triathlon
Carol Cooke – Cycling x 2
Women’s Freestyle Relay – Swimming
As women we will continue the fight for equality together, no matter what type of sport we do, but we must also accept that no matter our physical differences we should all be looked upon equally as Women in Sport.