Power Playing the Patriarchy: An exploratory research on perceptions of gender equality, sports and feminism according to ONSIDE grantees
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Since its very existence, sports have been an unwelcoming arena for women and queer persons. Feminist literature on equality issues within and beyond sports has been burgeoning since the 1960s, however, often representing only a select group of women. This qualitative research presents itself along a more inclusive discourse, drawing from the experiences of women and queer persons from 12 countries across 3 regions, engaged directly in initiatives at the intersection of feminism and sports. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with grantees of the ONSIDE Fund administered by global multi-dimensional women's fund Women Win. The purpose of this research was to demonstrate how ONSIDE grantees perceive and relate to gender equality in sports and what characterizes their lived experiences as feminist advocates in this field. The findings indicate the myriad complexity of the context in which gender equality is advocated. Overall, the findings were three-fold: (1) Important mechanisms contributing to gender inequality must be understood to grasp the issue of equality in sports and society at large, (2) Advantages of and barriers in sports make women’s experiences complex but also spark important solutions, (3) Feminist principles vary across contexts but overall are valued for their sense of empowerment. Feminists receive considerable backlash from their societies’ status quo which becomes visible in sports. Hence, the power play of the patriarchy remains strong but continuously challenged in its own game.