RTÉ Director General Dee Forbes has restated the broadcaster’s commitment to a minimum of 20 per cent of sports output in 2020 being devoted to coverage of Women’s sport.
Speaking at the Sport for Business Women Sport Conference, Forbes also revealed a new measurement tool which will enable greater oversight on the coverage across TV, radio and online. Hokan Wikstrom, Head of Sports News at Swedish National Broadcaster STV revealed how they had raised their own coverage of Women’s sport from 25 per cent to 45 per cent simply by greater awareness that it was being measured and a greater degree of effort in finding the best stories.
“We are doing this because it is the right thing to do, said RTÉ Head of Sport Declan McBennett, “but we cannot do it alone and we need others to come in behind from sporting bodies, other media and the public.”
“Broadcasting from a half full stadium does not look good regardless of gender and we need to translate good viewing numbers from the Women’s World Cup and the 397,000 that tuned into the hockey qualifier into a greater groundswell.”
The event opened up with Vodafone CEO Anne O’Leary and Olympic Federation of Ireland President Sarah Keane talking of the resilience needed in order to stand out as female leaders in what were traditionally men’s worlds.
Advances in rugby’s attitude towards, and commitment to, the women’s game will doubtless have been helped by O’Leary telling officials in a meeting two years ago that the Union’s main commercial partner expected more in this area.
Both women spoke of the need to be brave in their decision-making but being confident in their determination to do the right thing for the organisations and having a special emphasis on gender because that was good in the wider context.
Disability activist Joanne O’Riordan also spoke of resilience and offered advice to young teenage girls to be themselves and believe in themselves, that anything was possible if they put their minds to it. When it was suggested that the problems of gender equality were ‘first world problems’ compared to being born with no limbs she responded that everybody’s individual challenge was the most important thing to them.
Nora Stapleton from Sport Ireland and Sarah Colgan, co creator of the 20X20 movement, spoke of the short- and long-term benefits of effective cooperation across sport, business and Government.
“We are all on a journey with women in sport in Ireland but it’s about speeding up that journey,” Stapleton said. She also announced that a maternity policy has now been put in place for carded athletes.
The day rounded out with boxing world champion Kellie Harrington, Irish women’s hockey captain Katie Mullan, and Olympian turned Sports Psychologist Jessie Barr talking about their individual journeys.
Harrington revealed the doubts that assailed her earlier this year when blighted by a double injury and Mullan admitted the pressure on the Irish team to qualify for the Olympics was far greater than what they were exposed to in reaching the World Cup final last summer.