The global Global Touch community chooses to challenge on International Women’s Day

March 4, 2021 @ 9:45 UTC

March 8 marks the 110th year of International Women’s Day (IWD).

This is a day celebrated around the world to recognize the achievements of women and the Federation of International Touch (FIT) salutes all women on this important day.

March 8 marks the 110th year of International Women’s Day (IWD). This is a day celebrated around the world to recognize the achievements of women and to bring awareness to gender inequality. This year the theme is ‘Choose to Challenge’ which acknowledges the fact that more must be done to accelerate gender equality. 

The Federation of International Touch (FIT) salutes all women on this important day, especially the thousands of women who play, coach, referee, administrate and watch the sport of Touch all around the world. We contacted several eminent women from the global Touch community and asked them their thoughts on the significance of IWD. 

Day of Reflection

FIT Governance Director Margaret Hoekstra, whose extensive sporting administration experience includes field hockey, said, “For me personally IWD is a special and unique event that brings together women and others in the celebration of everything that makes women special, valued and respected. It offers the opportunity to show our appreciation for those women over the last century who faced many challenges in the pursuit of equality.”

For FIT Women’s Commission member Lily Singh IWD, “Is an important date on my calendar and I am reminded every year of the sometimes slow but always important progress we have made. I see IWD as a celebration of female achievement and of our ongoing contribution to society.”

FIT Coach’s Commission member Anne Goh believes that IWD is an opportunity for men to reflect on gender bias. “IWD is a great opportunity to educate everyone on gender inequality. It is very important for women to be able to identify the situation when they are faced with unequal treatment. It is even more crucial that men stand on the right side of history and speak up when they see injustice.”

Alex Waldren, FIT Women’s Commission Chair, echoed Margaret, Lily and Anne’s sentiments saying,    “IWD is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the achievements of women.”

Positive Effect

There was consensus among the FIT community that International Women’s Day assists in lifting the profile of women’s sport. Lily Singh said, “I have seen exponential change in the recognition of women’s sport since the 90s and that is a direct result of awareness campaigns such as IWD.”

According to Margaret Hoekstra, “We are seeing a raising of awareness of women’s sport both at a professional and community level.”

Anne Goh believes that progress has come slowly. “The positive is we are seeing changes now, from sports commentating to positive female narratives on mainstream media and positive female illustrations and representations.”

Alex Waldren also sees IWD as a catalyst for improving the profile of women’s sport and went on to recognize the fact that Touch has been supportive of women for a long time. “Touch Football has been inclusive of women for decades in Australia with both established social and competitive competitions for women.”

Lily Singh’s Lily Singh’s achievements as a player add weight to Alex’s comments. Lily has played at Metro Cup (Brisbane Australia), National Touch League (NTL) (Australia) and Mixed Open State of Origin in Australia. This is a testament to her skill as a player as well as being an illustration of the longstanding inclusivity of Touch.

Advantage Touch

Touch has a good story to tell when it comes to being inclusive. The contribution to the sport of our eminent women of Touch, Margaret Hoekstra, Alex Waldren, Lily Singh, and Anne Goh demonstrates the fact that women play a vital leadership role in Touch. It has been evident from our ‘Set of Six’ discussions with Touch leaders from all over the world that women are an integral part of the sport. 

There are hundreds of thousands of girls and women involved in Touch in Australia and New Zealand. Female participation all around the world is growing. In the Philippines Touch was first played by women before men got involved and there are more women playing Touch today than men.

There is always more that can be done on the issue of gender equality and inclusion, but it is fair to say that Touch can be proud of its contribution to these issues on International Women’s Day.