The new agreement included increases in base pay and match bonuses, better per diem allowances, enhanced travel benefits and increased financial support for players who are pregnant, voicing, at the same time, concerns widely shared by sportswomen.
It’s impact cascaded across football – where in Europe one male player, Neymar, earns the same as every women in the top seven leagues combined.
In December, the Norwegian Football Association signed an historical pay agreement, becoming the first governing body to devise an equal pay deal for both national football teams.
The move came after Norway men’s national team agreed to take a pay cut to aid with the wage restructuring, with both teams each set to earn a collective 6 million kroner (£573,635).
The move from the Scandinavian country, current 56 in FIFA world ranking, was especially significant as it came from a small football nation.
After winning the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro in June, also the Dutch women’s national team reached a new deal on more pay.
Months earlier, the Republic of Ireland women’s team reached an agreement with their national association after a threat to strike over poor treatment. They were fighting for improved resources and compensation for lost earnings while on international duty.
A similar protest was led by the players of Denmark’s women’s national team, who cancelled a World Cup Qualifier against Sweden after almost a year-long wage dispute with their FA. The strike was called off after a temporary agreement was reached.
In Finland, the country’s ombudsman for gender equality launched a probe in December into the differential pay levels for male and female national team players. While a year earlier, in Nigeria, the women’s national team held a sit-in protest over outstanding payments for winning the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
‘The skills they developed on the field, they took into the boardroom’
These discussions and the empowerment of women through sport are helping drive change in the wider work place as a new Atlassian and the Australian rules football league (AFLW) research, launched in the lead-up to the International Women’s Day (IWD), highlights.
It revealed that those who play team sports are significantly more likely to reach managerial and other roles of responsibility because it helped them develop important career skills.
“What the respondents said was the skills they developed on the field were things that they could take into the boardroom.
“Being involved in a team gave them confidence and more resilience when they faced challenges. None of those skills feel like they’re specific to team sports, but they can be developed there, and they can be carried forward with them as they go into their careers.” said Aubrey Blanche, head of global diversity and inclusion at Atlassian.
The role of football to empower women
Despite the many groundbreaking victories for women’s football and women in football, equality is yet to achieve and there is still to recognise the role all in the game have to play to help women develop their potential and have equal opportunities within its structures.
In Iran, women have long fought for their right to watch men’s sport in stadiums. This month, as campaigners planned to use the visit of FIFA President Infantino to Iran to voice their concerns and protest against a 39 year-old ban that prevents them from watching men’s football, reports emerged that 35 women were arrested outside a football stadium, causing international outrage.
The country is thought to be the last country to hold such a ban, after in January Saudi Arabia allowed women to attend football matches for the first time ever.
On 26 April, Fare will be leading discussions in Berlin, Germany, on the role of football can play in supporting the social development and personal empowerment of ethnic minority women and on tackling the dual discriminations – racism and sexism – they face.
On IWD, we highlight sporting events and activities taking place across the globe to push for equality worldwide:
On Monday 5 March the Argentine organisations Coordinadora de Hinchas and Asociaciòn de Clubes de Barrio y Deporte Social organised a talk on gender violence in sport with representatives from professional and grassroots clubs, LGBT Pampas Rugby Club and women’s rights groups.
Una charla que no te puedes perder y un tema muy importante 👏🏼👏🏾 pic.twitter.com/zdJdjfrsjz
— Fare_ES (@fare_es) March 5, 2018
On 3 March women’s grassroots club Martas Fútbol Feminista organised a gathering and a film screening in Santa Fé calling on equal rights for women and men to play football.
Ahead on IWD, Karina Vázquez, the first female announcer in Argentine football was interviewed by an online blog to talk about her experience in breaking the glass ceiling.
The Belgium Women’s Council launched the campaign #kickoutsexim to stand against the Belgium FA’s choice to use the rapper Damso to write the team’s official song for the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the discriminatory nature of his songs.
The Brazilian Museum of Football held a debate bringing together female football, volleyball and basketball professional players to discuss the achievements of women in sport on 7 March in São Paulo. As part of IWD the Museum is also opening its doors for women for free on 8 March.
In Belo Horizonte, women will be able to attend the match between Cruzeiro v URT on 7 March for free. The action is part of the nation-wide campaign ‘Quebre o Silêncio’ (Break the Silence) raising awareness of women’s rights.
The Brazilian Commission of Sports Law in Goiânia is running a talk on labour rights for women in professional sport, which will take place on 8 March.
In Brasiléia, the city council held a women’s futsal taster session as part of their women’s action week hoping it would further the participation of women in the game. Classes will now be regularly held every Monday and Saturday.
Corinthians fielded on 7 March a dedicated jersey with a hashtag raising awareness of gender-based violence.
Clube Atlético Mineiro have launched a social media campaign on gender-based violence and highlighting the role of women in the foundation of the club.
In Tabauté, the city council is running a three-day programme dedicated to IWD to discuss the representation of women in sport and gender equality. A video will be presented with female footballers talking about the discrimination they are subjected to and the pay gap between men’s and women’s football.
Women in Football held on 5 March a panel discussion on taking a stand against racism and sexism in football with panellists ranging from footballer, to iconic civil rights lawyer to feminist campaigner to writer sharing their experiences.
The National Football Museum is hosting a two-day conference on 8 and 9 March on the history and heritage of women’s football, with a particular focus on South America. The event is supported by Fare.
Sport Integrity Global Alliance held a one-day conference focusing on gender equality on 7 March in Paris.
The University of Guadalajara held for the second consecutive year a forum on women and football ahead of IWD bringing together some of the most well-known female players, referees, coaches and women’s football activists in Mexico.
A first ever Confederation of African Football women’s football symposium has opened in the Moroccan city of Marrakech on 5 March.
The two-day event, aimed at developing women’s football, is being held under the theme ‘raising our game’.
The political group Podemos presented this week a 11-point plan to further women’s sport in Castilla y León and tackle the gap between the number of boys and girls practising sport.
Gijón is hosting the 8th week of action against racism and xenophobia, which in 2018 will focus on discrimination against women and sexism in football.
The Spanish female players associations of handball, futsal, golf, volleyball, basketball and water sports signed a declaration to report discrimination and precarious working conditions in Spanish women’s sport, including gender pay gap, clauses restricting motherhood, inexistent working contracts, among others.
FIFA held its annual conference Equality and Inclusion conference on 2 March under the heading of ‘Pass it on – Hope through football’ and touched on how equal opportunities in sport can impact on real societal changes and how football can be used to help facilitate integration into society and its ability to empower individuals.