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20x20 Movement Has Impact But Long Road Still Ahead For Irish Women's Sport

20x20 Movement Has Impact But Long Road Still Ahead For Irish Women's Sport

The 20x20 movement, which was started two years ago to change how women's sport is perceived in Ireland, came to its conclusion on Wednesday with a virtual conference featuring major names from Irish and international sport.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova was the key speaker while Sonia O'Sullivan, Rachel Blackmore, Niamh McCarthy, Casey Stoney and Brian O'Driscoll also gave their thoughts.

Research conducted found that 80 per cent of the Irish population say they are now more aware of women's sport than they were two years ago.

Some other key findings include:

- 61% are more likely to support women’s sport since the launch of 2020

- 75% of men say 20x20 changed their mindset positively towards women’s sport

- 42% of women say they are participating in more sport and physical activity than in 2018 due to awareness of 20x20

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- 50% of the population and 60% of females say they would be more inclined to purchase from brands that support women’s sport

Despite this progress, women’s sport still lags far behind men’s sport when it comes to participation, attendance and media coverage.

In terms of media coverage, research conducted by Nielsen at the outset of the campaign, found that just four per cent of sport’s online coverage and three per cent of sport’s print coverage was dedicated to women’s sport. By the end of 2019, each of these had grown by two per cent, up to five per cent for online and six percent for print.

TV coverage of women’s sport meanwhile saw a 40 per cent decrease in the same period, even though coverage of women’s sport grew across both RTÉ and TG4. Despite the decline in coverage levels, audience of women’s sport on TV grew from seven per cent in 2018 to 18 per cent in 2019. Participation grew by 13 per cent while attendance in women’s sport increased by 17 per cent during this period.

"There's so much to do," said Casey Stoney, manager of the Manchester United women's team.

"You look at the percentages in terms of media coverage, online and in print, and it's still far too low.

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"I always say that if someone wants to be something, they need to see it. Visibility is still pretty low with female sport.

"Women's sport always has to fight for really marginal columns, which it shouldn't have to do.

"In print, we need to move away from the narrative of talking about backstories and [start] talking about results and performances. Then we'll know that we're winning."

Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

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