11 Jun 2013

Call in Fiji for more support for sportswomen

5:00 pm on 11 June 2013

There is a call by advocates for gender equality and womens rights in Fiji for more support for sportswomen.

Concerns about the disparity between the treatment of sportsmen and sportswomen were recently raised by the Fiji Women's Rights Movement and Diverse Voices and Action for Equality, or DIVA, during a Central Chiefs Women's Rugby Club event.

Beverley Tse has more:

BEVERLEY TSE: During the event, representatives from the two non-government organisations spoke about the difficult journey that sportswomen endure, but encouraged the public not to let the disparity hinder the push for gender equality and to get behind women in sports. The co-ordinator of DIVA, Shirley Tagi, says it is harder for women to get sponsorship than men, and women also have to work hard to fundraise and garner support.

SHIRLEY TAGI: How can they get to attain great heights in sport if there's no support, as well? So it's a Catch 22. So you need to build from below and a small group of women in Fiji you know are trying to do this but with no funds. So that's what we're doing - we're supporting them.

BEVERLEY TSE: The operations manager of the Fiji Rugby Union, Vilikesa Rinavuaka, says it's a fact there is a disparity between sports men and women and says traditionally sport is dominated by men. He says things are slowly changing in Fiji.

VILIKESA RINAVUKA: We've got a women's sevens team now competing in the world cup in Moscow and we have a very strong netball team and we have done for several years. But in terms of attracting the sponsorship dollar, it's been very difficult for women and always has, which is a sad thing because there are many talented women out there and they need to be able to showcase their talent and be able to compete with the best women around the world.

BEVERLEY TSE: Vilikesa Rinavuaka says some mindsets and attitudes need to change towards women's involvement in sport.

VILIKESA RINAVUKA: We have talented women, but the remarks they get when they run onto the field can be very discouraging. So we have to continually encourage, get away from that sort of mind where it's just an event to comment on or laugh at and stuff. It's got to be a whole shift away from that sort of thinking.

BEVERLEY TSE: The head of the Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee says sportswomen need to perform well if they want greater support. Lorraine Mar says women find it particularly difficult to get the kind of support men do in male dominated sports like rugby and football.

LORRAINE MAR: I think it's a chicken and egg situation where women need to perform well or as well as the men. Say, in terms of rugby, if we look at rugby in Fiji in particular, men's rugby, is, on the international stage, performed very well and therefore gets the media publicity all the time.

BEVERLEY TSE: Lorraine Mar says despite the disparity there are efforts, including those from the Fiji Olympic body, to encourage women to get involved in sport.