Tessa Jowell leads campaign for “gender equal” Games in 2016

Posted: Fri, 10 Aug 2012 16:54

Thursday saw the first even medals being won in women's boxing and taekwondo in an Olympic Games, but more needs to be done insists the former Labour minister Tessa Jowell. These events being opened up to women, along with London 2012 being the first time that all 204 competing nations sent both male and female athletes, has been hailed as a success by the IOC, but by many as not enough.

There is evidence that there is movement in the right direction, Jowell praised the fact that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei sent their first female athletes to the games and at the 1984 games, only 24% of the athletes were female, in London 44% of athletes were female, the highest ever figure for an Olympic Games. Jowell heralded Nicola Adam's gold in the women's boxing as "not just a reward for brilliant athleticism, but also another milestone in the long road to gender equality for women in sport. In Beijing, she would not have been allowed to compete. Yesterday, she and our other women boxers demonstrated that women boxers can pull in the crowds just like the men."

Despite these successes, Jowell said that the imbalance was "symptomatic of wider discrimination against women in sport", which is backed up by the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation who state that women's sport only receives 0.5% of corporate sponsorship and 5% of total media coverage.

Many critics of the Olympics' current set up point out that there are 30 more medals available for men than women at the Olympics with 9 sports not receiving equal gender representation. This frustration by many female athletes was showed by British C1 canoeing champion Samantha Rippington who launched a legal challenge over there being five men's events but none for women.

An IOC spokesman said that the body was unable to give a firm commitment to there being gender equality by Rio in just four years' time but he did pledge that the issue was to be a "priority".

Tags: London 2012, Rio 2016, Women's sport