I am Generation Equality: Emirhan Erdoğan, change leader for gender equality in sports media
I am Generation Equality because…
Three actions you can take to achieve gender equality in sports media:
- Using gender-responsive language
- Ensuring gender balance in the sports media industry
- Allocating equal time and coverage for all female and male athletes/sports in reporting without discrimination or gender-stereotyped portrayals of women.
When different generations come together, it’s easier to identify the injustices and problems experienced from the past to the present. Seeing the same things happen for centuries is important for creating resistance to these inter-generational problems. After identifying the problems, it is our job today to create and implement a roadmap showing what, why and how to change it. Transferring knowledge across generations can create a better culture that will be considered normal in the future.
I’m a change leader
Thanks to the gender equality training sessions that were organized through the HeForShe Movement and Fenerbahçe Sports Club partnership, which is supported by Tüpraş, I've been able to define something that I ‘am struggling with. After participating in the first training session, everything fell into place for me, and I started to advocate for change in a more systematic way. For example: I changed the language that I use. Instead of ‘lady’ I say ‘woman’, or ‘player of the match’ instead of “man of the match” and so on. It seems very simple, but even these small changes make a big difference.
In my private life, for example, I also changed how I engage with my 2-year-old niece. Gender equality became my first filter when talking or playing with her or buying her gifts or choosing cartoons to watch. I recognized that in the past my whole approach to her was coming from a stereotypical perspective of how ‘girls’ should be and what they should like.
I’ve also changed the way I operate professionally. I am making a relatively different TV show called ‘Perspective’ now, which covers all sports, not just football. I first filter the news that I collect from around the world on gender equality. I try to give equal time to male and female athletes.
Ensuring gender equality in sports and sports media is essential
Research tells us that in workplaces where gender equality is valued, productivity, trust and work quality increase. Sports can establish these kinds of environments across all areas of society. Sports media, through broadcast and print, has a wide influence as it can touch almost everyone in the country. Therefore, I fully believe that ensuring gender equality will improve sports and this will flow through the whole society.
You can't dream of something invisible
Sports media inspires girls to become the next Serena Williams, Simone Biles, Megan Rapione, Eda Erdem, Buse Naz Çakıroğlu, Ayşe Begüm Onbaşı. If you only give tiny coverage to the great success of the National Women's Volleyball Team, while making the salary of male football players the headlines, what outcome will you get? For girls to imagine themselves shooting a basket, for example, they must see others like them doing that. You can't dream of something invisible.
Role models are important
There are many athletes, with millions of followers, who can have a huge impact worldwide. Remember the impact that Cristiano Ronaldo made when he targeted a carbonated beverage company for being harmful at Euro 2020. This company, which makes an average of $20 billion in profit annually, lost $4 billion in value in just one day. Now imagine if Ronaldo did the same thing for gender equality. Maybe in one minute he could do what might otherwise take years. We cannot ignore this effect.
Let me give a more concrete example. There is a channel called ‘Togethxr’ on Youtube. The founders are four American female athletes named Simone Manuel, Alex Morgan, Chole Kim and Sue Bird. They focus entirely on the stories of female athletes. Their aim is to introduce successful women to young girls. We need this in Turkey.
Sports instill physical and mental health, not only in the individuals who play it, but into society. It underscores values such as discipline, respect, morality and ethics. In this sense, sport has a great power. Societies that want to achieve gender equality should take advantage of this unique power of sport.
Emirhan Erdoğan (31) is an editor and Sports Broadcaster for Fenerbahçe Sports Club TV channel. He is also a change leader for gender equality in the Fenerbahçe Sports Club. As a strong defender of gender equality, he attended training of trainers on gender equality that UN Women Turkey provided as part of the HeForShe Movement Fenerbahçe Sports Club partnership. He then became one of the volunteer trainers, disseminating gender awareness seminars to his colleagues. Fenerbahçe Sports Club is one of Turkey’s largest and most prominent sports clubs and is a signatory to the UN Women's Sports for Generation Equality Initiative, committing to making gender equality a reality on and off the playing field.