30 for 2030 Network launches regional campaign to promote “Sports for All”


Authors: Mayumi Sato and Zahra Al Hilaly

Illustration: UN Women/Hala Makhlouf
Illustration: UN Women/Hala Makhlouf

Despite great strides made in gender equality in sports globally, the Asia-Pacific region lags significantly behind in this realm. Sports organizations across the region continue to be dominated by men, and societal views are still skewed against women and girls in their access to and participation in sports. Still, there are limited possibilities for female leadership in sports, and pervasive gender stereotypes prevent women and girls from reaching their full potential. As the 30 for 2030 Network, we recognize that beyond large-scale international sports events, change starts from the ground up at the grassroots level, in our homes, in our communities, and in our countries.

Recognizing these widespread challenges, in 2023, UN Women and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) launched a joint initiative to use the power of sports as a driver for gender equality. This joint initiative, the Bridging Project, works to develop and empower women and girls to raise their voices in and through sport and increase the capacity of sports organisations to advance gender equality.

Building upon this work, the 30 for 2030 Network is excited to be launching Sports for All, a campaign that promotes social justice at the heart of this new revolution for sports. While the Asia-Pacific region is engaging in new dialogue around what it means to achieve gender equality in sports, this campaign recognizes the diverse and intersecting gender issues entangled with the sporting world. From Indigenous communities exercising their right to sustain their sporting traditions, to transgender and non-binary athletes fighting for their ability to compete in all levels of sport, to mainstreaming gender in sports education in academic curricula, the movement for gender equality in sports is rapidly gaining traction.

The 30 for 2030 youth leaders embody a diverse community of young people across the Asia-Pacific region who are committed to fighting for gender equality across sectors and industries.  This campaign will harness the voices of women and girls from diverse backgrounds, uniting them under a common call to action. Our aim is to bring to light the real-life experiences of women and girls in sports across the Asia-Pacific region and to inspire action and change within sports organisations at all levels. In our campaign, we will collectively embark to centre the voices of those breaking barriers and building bridges through storytelling. This includes strategizing solutions for queering sports, disability in sport, mental health concerns, and more. By elevating marginalised narratives to the fore and reshaping understanding around what it truly means to be gender equal in sport in the Asia-Pacific region, we hope to encourage sports organisations, leaders, and allies to commit and advance gender equality in and through sport.

For the 30 for 2030 Network, we cannot forget that behind every athlete, there is a story. Whether it is a story of overcoming adversity, or a story of igniting meaningful change, our mantra, Sports for All, reminds us that more must be done to promote, open doors, work together, and meaningfully engage communities, especially those on the margins, to progress gender equality in and through sport.