Evening the playing field: women’s sport as a vehicle for human rights

Abstract

Since the days of the first Olympics in Ancient Greece, women have been barred entry into sports and have fought for their place on the field. That fight continues throughout the world today, with varying levels of success. With the right to equal opportunity in sports comes equal opportunity in other human rights, and women are demanding access to both. This paper will explore the correlation between women’s equal opportunity in sporting events and other human rights. First, this paper will examine the history of women’s rights in sports, including legislation around the world either denying or guaranteeing equal access. Second, this paper will analyze the link between women’s participation in athletics and other human rights, focusing on equal pay, bodily autonomy, and education. Finally, this paper will discuss the hurdles modern women are facing in their fight for equality both on and off the field, including social perception, classism, and objectification.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Golden (1998).

  2. 2.

    Id.

  3. 3.

    Id.

  4. 4.

    Id.

  5. 5.

    UDHR 27(1).

  6. 6.

    CEDAW 10(g).

  7. 7.

    CEDAW 13(c).

  8. 8.

    International Olympic Committee, ‘Factsheet: Women in the Olympic Movement’ <https://stillmed.olympic.org/media/Document%20Library/OlympicOrg/Factsheets-Reference-Documents/Women-in-the-Olympic-Movement/Factsheet-Women-in-the-Olympic-Movement-June-2016.pdf>.

  9. 9.

    Id.

  10. 10.

    Sweet and Segal (1987).

  11. 11.

    Dasgupta (2016).

  12. 12.

    Id.

  13. 13.

    Id.

  14. 14.

    Drinkwater (2008).

  15. 15.

    Id.

  16. 16.

    Id.

  17. 17.

    Id.

  18. 18.

    The continuing class struggles in women’s sporting participation will be discussed further later in this paper.

  19. 19.

    Id.

  20. 20.

    Id.

  21. 21.

    Id.

  22. 22.

    Carpentier and Lefevre (2006).

  23. 23.

    Id.

  24. 24.

    The IOC also pushed for a name change for the Student’s Olympic Games, suggesting they were not targeting the Women’s Games. Minutes from the meeting reflect they discussed not hindering either Games in any way but changing the names to avoid affiliation. (see note 21.)

  25. 25.

    Carpentier & Lefevre, note 21.

  26. 26.

    Id.

  27. 27.

    Id.

  28. 28.

    Johnson (1994).

  29. 29.

    Id.

  30. 30.

    Id.

  31. 31.

    Id.

  32. 32.

    Carpentier & Lefevre, note 21.

  33. 33.

    Id.

  34. 34.

    Id.

  35. 35.

    Id.

  36. 36.

    Id.

  37. 37.

    Id.

  38. 38.

    Id.

  39. 39.

    IOC, ‘Key Dates in the History of Women in the Olympic Movement’ <https://www.olympic.org/women-in-sport/background/key-dates>.

  40. 40.

    Id.

  41. 41.

    IOC, note 8.

  42. 42.

    Noland (2016).

  43. 43.

    Knijnik (2013).

  44. 44.

    The ban was for “any sport incompatible with the female nature”; however, it was most keenly felt in football, which was gaining popularity among women before the law.

  45. 45.

    Futebol Feminino, Museo de futbol <http://futebolfeminino.museudofutebol.org.br/>.

  46. 46.

    Id.

  47. 47.

    Knijnik, note 41.

  48. 48.

    Hallman (2012).

  49. 49.

    Gertrud Pfister, ‘“Must Women Play Football?” Women’s Football in Germany, Past and Present’ (2001) Football Studies vol. 4 n. 2.

  50. 50.

    Id.

  51. 51.

    Id.

  52. 52.

    Id.

  53. 53.

    Statuta (2017).

  54. 54.

    Id.

  55. 55.

    Burfoot (2007).

  56. 56.

    Id.

  57. 57.

    Id.

  58. 58.

    Skelton (2018).

  59. 59.

    Weiner (2014).

  60. 60.

    Burack (2016).

  61. 61.

    Id.

  62. 62.

    Skelton, note 55.

  63. 63.

    Lusher (2018).

  64. 64.

    Macur (2010).

  65. 65.

    Lusher, note 60.

  66. 66.

    Ministry of Education, ‘Education Approves the Application of Physical Education Program in Girls’ Schools’, 07 November 2017 <https://www.moe.gov.sa/ar/news/Pages/edu-sport.aspx>.

  67. 67.

    ‘Saudi Arabia to Allow Women into Sports Stadiums’ BBC News 29 October 2017 <https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-41798481>.

  68. 68.

    Worden (2018).

  69. 69.

    Golgowski (2018).

  70. 70.

    CEDAW 10(g) and 13(c).

  71. 71.

    20 U.S.C. 1681.

  72. 72.

    Id.

  73. 73.

    Brentwood v. Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association 531 US 288 (2001).

  74. 74.

    Ladd (2014).

  75. 75.

    Id.

  76. 76.

    Note 68.

  77. 77.

    O’Reilly and Cahn (2012).

  78. 78.

    Id.

  79. 79.

    Id.

  80. 80.

    Id.

  81. 81.

    Brown and Connolly (2010).

  82. 82.

    Id.

  83. 83.

    Id.

  84. 84.

    Stevenson (2010).

  85. 85.

    Kleinjans et al. (2017).

  86. 86.

    CEDAW Article 11 1(d).

  87. 87.

    UDHR 23(2).

  88. 88.

    UDHR 23(3).

  89. 89.

    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 20, 1973, ‘Billie Jean Vet’s Foe Tonight’, New York Times News Service.

  90. 90.

    Id.

  91. 91.

    Greenspan (2013).

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    Id.

  93. 93.

    Bradley (2004).

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    Id.

  95. 95.

    Garcia (2017).

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    Note 73.

  97. 97.

    Id.

  98. 98.

    Langone (2018).

  99. 99.

    Id.

  100. 100.

    Note 73.

  101. 101.

    Id.

  102. 102.

    Strashin (2017).

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    Id.

  104. 104.

    Id.

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    Id.

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    Adamcyzk (2017).

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    Id.

  108. 108.

    Id.

  109. 109.

    Deitsch (2015).

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    Adamcyzk, note 104.

  111. 111.

    UDHR Article 3.

  112. 112.

    Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women Article 3.

  113. 113.

    Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women Article 1.

  114. 114.

    Id. Article 2.

  115. 115.

    Lindhorst (2015).

  116. 116.

    Crawford and Haneline (2018).

  117. 117.

    Id.

  118. 118.

    Note 116.

  119. 119.

    36 USC 220541.

  120. 120.

    Milner and Baker (2017).

  121. 121.

    Id.

  122. 122.

    Stevenson, note 80.

  123. 123.

    UDHR Article 26.

  124. 124.

    CEDAW Article 10.

  125. 125.

    Id.

  126. 126.

    Id. at (b).

  127. 127.

    Id. at (c).

  128. 128.

    Id. at (d).

  129. 129.

    Convention against Discrimination in Education Article 1(a).

  130. 130.

    Convention against Discrimination in Education Article 1(b).

  131. 131.

    Tembon and Fort (2008).

  132. 132.

    Id.

  133. 133.

    Ijeoma et al. (2013).

  134. 134.

    Milner, note 116.

  135. 135.

    Stevenson, note 80.

  136. 136.

    Id.

  137. 137.

    Id.

  138. 138.

    Muñoz-Bullón et al. (2017).

  139. 139.

    Id.

  140. 140.

    Troutman and Dufur (2007).

  141. 141.

    Id.

  142. 142.

    Id.

  143. 143.

    Rishe (2003).

  144. 144.

    Olushola et al. (2013).

  145. 145.

    Rishe, note 143.

  146. 146.

    Olushola et all, note 144.

  147. 147.

    Id.

  148. 148.

    Id.

  149. 149.

    Note 43.

  150. 150.

    Carr (2014).

  151. 151.

    Ring (2013).

  152. 152.

    Brandt (1931).

  153. 153.

    Id.

  154. 154.

    Horowitz (2013).

  155. 155.

    Id.

  156. 156.

    Id.

  157. 157.

    Id.

  158. 158.

    Hall (2002).

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    Id.

  160. 160.

    Id.

  161. 161.

    Id.

  162. 162.

    Id.

  163. 163.

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  164. 164.

    Eaton (2012).

  165. 165.

    Chalabaev et al. (2013).

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    Id.

  167. 167.

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  169. 169.

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  171. 171.

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  173. 173.

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  176. 176.

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  177. 177.

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  178. 178.

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  180. 180.

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  181. 181.

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Lemmon, M. Evening the playing field: women’s sport as a vehicle for human rights. Int Sports Law J 19, 238–257 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40318-019-00148-5

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Keywords

  • Women's sport
  • Human rights
  • International treaties
  • CEDAW