Marianne Meier

Marianne Meier
Sport & Development – Swiss Academy for Development (SAD)

Promoting Gender Equity through Sport

The Magglingen declaration 2003 was founded on the principle of sport as a human right, which has the potential to improve physical and mental health and help overcome trauma. All sections of the recommendations refer to the importance of measures to include women, girls and other marginalised groups in sports initiatives. However, apart from acknowledging the need to eliminate stereotyping, there is still little recognition of the gendered nature of sport in most countries of the world. Sport can contribute tremendously to international development and cooperation work for the benefit of women, men, girls and boys, irrespective of the developing degree of a region. Despite this broadly shared conviction, there is still a lack of substantiated evidence to support this purported potential of sport and its specific impact on gender relationships.
What key factors are preventing women and girls from getting involved in sport activities in developing countries? How could those possible constraints be approached? Are some types of sport more likely to clash with social norms? Could traditional games be a possible access for females in sports or are such patterns even counterproductive, because they consolidate existing patriarchal structures? This paper deals with such questions and provides an analytical framework as well as field experience which should encourage further debates and research in the field of sport, gender and development.


Marianne Meier is working as a research analyst for the Swiss Academy for Development focussing on sport, gender and development.

In June and July of this year, I spent six weeks in Zambia doing research in the field evaluating sport programs. Thanks to the collaboration of two local NGOs (Sport in Action / Play Soccer), I could get 190 valid questionnaires from girls, boys, coaches, and families regarding sport and gender. Now, I’m analysing and editing the results (comparing them to the outcome of our survey in Iran).

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