Something big is happening with the Women’s World Cup. People are starting to take notice. Thanks to the success the US team has had, women’s soccer is getting more and more popular in the United States — and the team is favourite to win in France again this year — but other parts of the world are starting to pay attention too.
I’m back from London, where people are seriously excited about England’s chances. They even showed the quarterfinal match with Norway on the big screens at Glastonbury so music and sports fans could embrace “The Lionesses” together. Although such scenes aren’t unusual when the men’s team is involved in major games, this isn’t normally the case for their female counterparts. For a country that is truly mad about the sport, it’s surprising how long it’s taken people in England to truly embrace the women’s game.
That’s what’s great about the World Cup — people coming together, tearing down stereotypes, and celebrating women’s achievements. And as we get better at acknowledging female talent around the world, it makes it just a bit harder for people to defend sexism, maintain the status quo, or stand in the way of our relentless march towards gender equality.
But that doesn’t mean things are perfect in the world of women’s soccer. The US team — the biggest and most successful in the world — is taking legal action against their own employers to push for equal pay. And in Africa, many women continue to fight social stigma and economic pressures for the right to play the game at all. And guess what? No African team has made it to the quarterfinals. You think there might be a connection there?
Sadly, this reflects the world beyond soccer. We are a long, long way from achieving real gender equality — 108 years, or another 27 World Cups, to be exact. The problem is worse in the poorest parts of the world, where women carry the biggest burden of poverty and disease. This is a global shame, and the world needs to up its game, fast.
The good news is that world leaders have the opportunity to do something about this. When Heads of State meet at the G7 Summit in France this August, these leaders — whose countries represent over half the world’s net wealth — have the opportunity to take true steps to end gender inequality for good.
Addressing this challenge is a huge task, but if leaders seize this moment the rewards will be immense. Just imagine how we could all benefit from unlocking the full potential of over half the world’s population. That’s why we’re pushing for real progress, not empty promises, at this critical Summit.
In just a few days, we will be able to celebrate a winning World Cup team, but we still can’t celebrate a single country that has achieved gender equity. That’s why we are fighting to ensure that the biggest goal for women in 2019 isn’t scored in Lyon on 7th July – but in Biarritz this August. You can help make that happen by telling world leaders what our goals are, and make sure they act so that we all win.