A new practical guide shapes gender equality in Turkish sports

Sports can have a powerful influence on gender equality. A workshop organized by HeForShe in Turkey, with Fenerbahçe Sports Club and support from Tüpraş, examined how sports can foster gender equality across society. Participants launched practical guidelines for gender-responsive sports organizations.

Date: Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Girls' football teams in Gaziantep, Turkey played for solidarity against gender-based violence. Photo: UN Women
Girls' football teams in Gaziantep, Turkey played for solidarity against gender-based violence. Photo: UN Women

At a HeForShe Turkey workshop in June 2021, prominent Turkish sports discussed the Guidelines for Gender-responsive Sports Organization and debated strategic steps to positively impact women in sports leadership and management, investment in women in sports, and gender equality in sports media.

Workshop attendees included athletes and sports officials; trainers and managers from Turkish national women's tennis, volleyball, football, chess, Olympics and gymnastics teams and federations; sports journalists; and representatives from sports clubs, sports civil society organizations and private sector partners.

Developed by UN Women in Turkey, the Guidelines for Gender-responsive Sports Organizations translate UN Women’s global Sport for Generation Equality Initiative into a step-by-step guide on how to develop strategies and turn them into concrete action.

“Sports have a crucial role to address gender inequalities rooted in all communities and cultures around the world, with benefits that reach far beyond stadiums and sports halls,” said UN Women Turkey Country Director Asya Varbanova, in her opening address to the workshop.

She explained that Sports for Generation Equality is an initiative that “mobilizes the power of the entire sports ecosystem to turn gender equality into a reality in and through sports. In Turkey, we have a unique and successful cooperation with Fenerbahçe Sports Club to set an example for other sports organizations about how to put these principles into practice.”

Working to create a national network to advance gender equality in and through sports, UN Women in Turkey has collaborated with Fenerbahçe Sports Club since 2018 to achieve gender equality in and through sports under the HeForShe movement with the support of Tüpraş, a leading industrial organization in Turkey. Fenerbahçe Sports Club recently signed on to UN Women’s Sport for Generation Equality Initiative.

The lead author of the Guidelines for Gender-Responsive Sports Organizations, Professor Canan Koca, Faculty of Sports Sciences, Hacettepe University, and Chair of the Board of Turkish Association of Sport and Physical Activity for Women, noted that the Guidelines can serve as an important tool to achieve gender equality in sports.

Other participants acknowledged sports' pivotal role to eliminate barriers to gender equality, counter discrimination, and empower girls.

“Sports clubs, federations, sports media, non-governmental organizations, and all other stakeholders have a major role to play in helping achieve gender equality in and through sports. Fenerbahçe Sports Club is delighted to share its experience about its actions taken in this long journey,” said Simla Türker Bayazıt, Executive Board Member of Fenerbahçe Sports Club.

Attendees noted the sports world’s power to unify, transform, influence, and raise gender equality awareness.

“Creating role models is the key to establish a positive perspective for each segment of the society, especially among children and youth. I am confident that the Guidelines for Gender-Responsive Sports Organizations will engage more people, and the social impact we make through our cooperation will reverberate exponentially,” said İbrahim Yelmenoğlu, General Manager Tüpraş.