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Women’s rights campaigners demand equality at the Olympics

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Penny Hopkins
Olympics editor

 

It is supposed to be the most gender-equal Games ever.  At last, every country’s team will comprise both women and men.

Women will be competing in every single sport – with boxing to be the last sport to achieve equality.

And yet, and this may be a theme of the WVoN reporting on the Games, is this equality real, or just so much talk?

 

On Wednesday 25, before the Games started, representatives from European women’s groups met to protest against discrimination at the Olympics.

 

Annie Sugier, of the International League of Women’s Rights conceded that progress has been made but added that “It is clear that more needs to be done as there is still gender discrimination at the Olympics.”

 

The demonstration included a symbolic burial of the Olympic Charter in protest at the apparent disregard for the one of its guiding principles – the condemnation of discrimination of any kind.

 

The protestors presented seven demands under the title, “London 2012: Justice for Women” to be delivered to International Olympic Committee (IOC) members on Wednesday.

 

These include having the same number of medal events for men and women, working towards a 50% representation for women on sports’ governing bodies, and women competitors to be given the same profile as men.

 

They also demand banning the wearing of political or religious symbols and it is this that is probably the most contentious.

 

Anne-Marie Lizin, president of the Belgian Senate said: “We want all women in all countries of the world to have access to sport, to be able to complete and have the possibility of coming to the Olympics – and to wear what they want.”

 

It is unbelievable that some of these demands still have to be made in the 21st century.

Others, like the continuing issue of religious symbols, and more particularly the requirement that female Islamic competitors wear the hijab, are inevitably more complex.

One thing is sure; women’s equality at the London 2012 Games will be one of the most vigorously debated subjects for the next two weeks and beyond.

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