After attending the two TTCAN General Awareness webinars (one in English and one in French) that provided a historical background regarding Gender Equity and Gender Equality, I personally gained a lot of insight into the historical issues over the years and how long it is taking to make a “real” change.
Some actions are easy and depend only on economic considerations and decisions by the leadership of the sport, such as “equal prize money”, “equal number of entries” and etc.
If we look at the progress made in Canada in table tennis regarding the participation of women in our competitions, the number has increased from 15% to 18% in the last 25 years. This is a very small increase, even if it is opposite to the general trend in sport in Canada where there is in fact a decrease in the number of women participating in Sport (ref. Rally 2020 report).
With efforts from the Canadian government (special funding) and with all the efforts deployed in Canada the result is a DECREASE in number of female participation in sport. Something is wrong !
To provide Gender equity and equality is not difficult. In fact, we can do it almost overnight, but to increase the number of female participants is a challenge for which we do not seem to have the right answer.
Every day and every year we hear more and more about the reasons why there is a drop out of girls participating in sport. The list is long. We (all sports) do our best to provide equal opportunities to girls and boys, but the problem is deeper and does not seem to be within our capacity to solve it. As Paul Noël (Saskatchewan TTA provincial coach) rightly said during the French webinar, the problem is much deeper than we think and starts at the transitional stage from primary school to junior high school and beyond. This is not within the reach of the national association (or even PTSOs).
Lilamani de Soysa, the presenter of the webinars, with her vast experience worldwide, warned us very clearly “Before you embark on a development program make sure you address the reasons for which girls drop out or do not even start in our sport”. She added “It is not only a gender issue it is also a governance issue”.
So, as President of TTCAN, I ask all of you to send us new creative ideas that we can implement to increase the number of female participation in our sport. Send your ideas to: email@example.com
Adham Sharara, President
7 December 2020