International Women’s Day: BWF’s Focus On Gender Equity

International Women’s Day: BWF’s Focus On Gender Equity
Learni Ratri Oktila being honoured with the Female Para Badminton Player of the Year in Guangzhou last December.

BWF has always laid emphasis on gender equity, as seen – most prominently – in equal prize money for male and female athletes for many years now.

Apart from elite badminton, BWF has worked at the grassroots level towards promoting equal opportunities for players, both able-bodied and Para athletes. The contribution of women in various spheres is increasingly recognised, and on the occasion of International Women’s Day today, the badminton community can be proud that women players have been on an equal pedestal with male players from the earliest times.

One major initiative was to institute Female Participation Grants in Para badminton. These grants support new female athletes with a grant to attend and be classified at their first international Para badminton tournament. For 2020, BWF received applications from 70 female athletes from 36 countries; 51 scholarships were granted.

Kim Doung is one of the 51 female Para badminton athletes who received scholarships this year.

The Australian, who competed in the Oceania Para badminton Championships 2020, expressed her thoughts on the significance of BWF’s funding initiative.

“The grant will help my expenses and allow me to compete in the Spanish Para Badminton International 2020. This has helped me financially and gives us more opportunities to pay our way to play Para badminton at an international level,” said Doung.

Seven female Para badminton players from Oceania were chosen; for all of them, the funding was crucial to competing at international events as travel to international events can be quite expensive.

“Being so isolated, living in Tamworth, New South Wales, it costs a lot to fly from my hometown,” said Fiona Sing, another scholarship-holder from Australia. “I don’t have any sponsors, so this is a huge help. Competing at the Oceania Championships has been a huge learning experience, watching all these other nations play and to meet new friends, rekindle relationships with friends and the community – no matter how far we are apart, it’s nice to catch up again.”

Social impacts count among the outcomes of funding female participation.

“In PNG (Papua New Guinea), there is a problem with female athletes coming out of their shells – I hope to encourage them to participate in more competitive sports. I hope this experience allows me to become a role model for other women,” said PNG’s Nelly Ruth Leva.

AGITOS Road to Tokyo

As part of the AGITOS Road to Tokyo Programme, BWF conducted administration and coaching workshops in Nagoya, Japan. Participants from 14 countries – Philippines, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Hong Kong China, India, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Bhutan, Chinese Taipei and Iran – attended this programme. All the attendees at the coaching workshop were female, while 50 per cent of the attendees to the administration workshop were female.

BWF also has Gender Equity grants to its Continental Confederations (CCs). The grants allow the CCs to tailor their strategies to the particular needs and challenges faced in their specific contexts, and are used in different ways.

“Gender equity has for long been a core principle for BWF,” said BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund. “Many of our decisions are made keeping in mind equal opportunities for women, both at the grassroots and at the elite levels.”

BWF’s internal efforts include conducting a study on female participation and success with the Coach Education programme, and the ongoing study of female participation and success at leadership levels.