20x20 - a new initiative for women in sport
A new campaign presented by the Federation of Irish Sport and originated and developed by the creative agency Along Came A Spider and supported by Healthy Ireland is setting out to create a measurable cultural shift in our perception of women’s sport so that it will be seen as something strong, valuable and worth celebrating.
The campaign, championed by Ireland’s National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships, is calling on the people of Ireland and all those involved in Irish sport and physical activity to get behind female sport in a concerted effort to increase media coverage, boost attendances and ultimately, grow involvement in female sport and physical activity by 20% by the end of 2020.
National Governing Bodies, Local Sports Partnerships, clubs, universities, schools, leisure centres, community groups and the general public are being asked to pledge one action to show their support by doing anything that can accelerate progress for women’s sport in Ireland and realise the key objectives. Individuals are being asked to share their pledge idea by visiting the 20x20 Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. People can also show their support by simply putting the two 20x20 stripes on both cheeks and posting using #20x20, #ShowYourStripes and #CantSeeCantBe online.
International strategies and research reports, which aim to improve female participation, acknowledge that the shortage of female role models is a significant factor. 20x20 will showcase the range and breadth of Irish females involved in sport. As part of this Along Came A Spider are to create five short films on different themes that impact on women in sport. The first of these is now available to view on www.20x20.ie as well as on the campaign’s social channels.
Irish female sporting heroes, Louise Quinn (Irish International & Arsenal Footballer and Three’s Ambassador for 20x20), Sarah Rowe (Mayo Senior Ladies Footballer and Lidl’s Ambassador for 20x20), Laura Twomey (Dublin Senior Camogie Player and AIG’s Ambassador for 20x20) as well as Irish professional golfers Leona Maguire (KPMG’s Ambassador for 20x20) and Stephanie Meadow (Investec’s Ambassador for 20x20), joined forces with Head Coach of Manchester United Women and former England Women's National Football player, Casey Stoney MBE, to lend their support to the 20x20 campaign (Twenty by Twenty).
The sport stars were joined by the CEO of Swim Ireland Sarah Keane, 18 Time All-Ireland Cork Camogie and Ladies Football Champion Rena Buckley, Irish Women’s Hockey Head Coach Graham Shaw, Olympian and leading Horse Trainer Jessica Harrington as well as Sport Ireland CEO, John Treacy to discuss the campaign which has the overarching objective of inspiring Ireland to culturally embrace women in sport, so that they can become part of who we are and what we follow.
The campaign has been made possible due to generous support from AIG, Investec, KPMG, Lidl and Three all of whom are already significant and committed supporters of women’s sport through their sponsorships of Dublin GAA, Women’s Professional Golf, the Ladies Gaelic Football Association, National Football League and the Ireland Senior Women’s National Football Team.
Research commissioned by 20x20 and conducted by Nielsen as part of the campaign found that significantly less than 20% of all media coverage of sport relates to women’s sport and mixed sport. RTÉ Sport, Off The Ball (Newstalk), SportsJOE and Her.ie are also early supporters of the campaign as Media Partners and significantly have each committed to increasing their own coverage of women in sport by 20% over the course of the initiative.
CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, Mary O’Connor said; “It is true that women’s sport in Ireland receives less recognition and acclaim and as a consequence is undervalued broadly in Irish society. The aim of the 20x20 movement is to give increased profiling to girls and women involved in sport at all levels. We want this campaign to stimulate behavioural change to ensure that subsequent generations have female role models to emulate as athletes, coaches and referees. We aim, through the 20x20 campaign, to showcase the importance and positive influence sport and physical activity has on girls by increasing media coverage and increasing attendances at competitions and events.”
Casey Stoney, Head Coach of Manchester United Women and former England Women's National Football player; “Sport provides such incredible opportunities. As a young girl I was told that football was just for boys and yet, I went on to play 130 times for England including at World Cups, European Championships and even representing GB at the London 2012 Olympics. I now find myself as Head Coach of Manchester United’s first women’s team. I firmly believe our 21 players will be history makers and as the biggest football club in the world can truly transform women’s football not just in England but around the globe. It is so important that girls and women have role models to whom they can relate. It is for this reason that I was so excited and delighted to get the opportunity to come and lend my support for the launch of 20x20. I believe if supported by all involved in sport it really could be a landmark moment for sport in this country.”
Sarah Colgan, CEO Along Came A Spider added: “By increasing the visibility of women’s sport, whether through increased coverage, attendances or participation, we make it a greater part of our culture. We’re a proud nation of sport lovers and have a huge amount to gain by fully embracing the sport of 50% of our population. By clubs giving greater parity to female teams, schools creating new opportunities for girls in sport, sports fans attending women’s events and parents encouraging their daughters, we’re hoping everyone will pledge one action to grow women’s sport in Ireland.”