The FISU Gender Equality Awards honour projects or individuals who have made significant efforts to advance and achieve gender equality within university sport in their country, continent or internationally.
FISU supports projects that increase the participation of women in university sport and encourages its members to develop these projects to help inspire others to increase their efforts and resources committed to this topic.
The first of our shortlisted entries was the BUCS and FA Women’s Leadership Programme for the 2021 Gender Equality Project Award. First delivered in 2019, it identified a gap in the women’s talent development pathway, which was a barrier to their aims for increasing female workforce representation within The Football Association (FA). The project played a major role in increasing the quantity and quality of female talent in the leadership pipeline to support the FA in assuring a fit for future representative workforce. Now entering its third year, graduates from the programme have gone onto secure jobs at Chelsea FC, Manchester FA and MK Dons.
Further individual success for the BUCS team came in the shortlisting of Beth Jenkinson-Garner, BUCS Women and Girl’s Football Development Officer, for the Gender Equality Champion Award.
Beth’s main focus is to utilise football as a vehicle to enhance lives, creating more participation opportunities for female students to engage with universities across the UK. As a result of Beth’s hard work, BUCS exceeded FA participation targets by 93% engaging 8,546 new female participants into football during 2019-20.
Beth comments: “It has been a tremendous privilege to deliver the FA Women’s Leadership Programme as a partnership between BUCS and The Football Association. The programme was a long time in the creation and it is an honour to play a role in realising the dreams of those initial visionaries.
We have incredible talent in the higher education sector and, although we provide the structure, it is the leaders that make this happen for themselves. It is their passion, their work ethic and their desire to learn which drives the acceleration of their development during their time on the programme and beyond, and we are immensely proud of every single one of them. Possibly more than ever, this world needs confident, values driven leaders and we are so excited to watch them be the change they want to see – it’s time to change the game.”
This is a timely nomination, given The FA’s release of their new #LetGirlsPlay campaign, which sets the target that by 2024, girls will have the same football opportunities as boys in schools and clubs. The projects run by the BUCS Football Development Team ensures this pathway can continue from school into university, and beyond.
We must also commend the University of Nottingham (UoN) for their ‘Girls Night In’ campaign, shortlisted for the 2021 FISU Gender Equality Project Award. The project was devised in 2015 after female inactivity and wellbeing was identified as an area that could be improved within the UoN Sport offer.
The aim was not just to turn all female students into high level competitors, but also to give them a chance to try different sports, make new friendships, support their wellbeing, and build their self-confidence around getting involved and taking part in activities outside of their comfort zone. Since the event was launched, they have engaged over 2,100 female students in sport and physical activity.
Daniella Dutton, Participation Sport Development Officer at the University of Nottingham commented on the nomination: "It's a great honour to have been shortlisted for this award. It truly reflects our visions and aspiration to deliver an inclusive experience for all our students on campus. We will never undervalue the role that sport and physical activity has to play in empowering females to do their best."
The award winners will be announced on 30 October, but regardless of the result, we would like to congratulate all the shortlisted entries for the fantastic work they have done in improving gender equality and championing women’s sport.