In the Olympic games there are currently 30 more medals available to men than are to women. This Olympic games was a landmark one in that it is the first in history in which all 204 participating nations sent female athletes to compete, but there is still ground left to cover. Which is why we’re so glad that current shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell recently announced her intention to lead the campaign to make 2016 Rio “the first gender equal games” in history.
“Nicola Adams’s face is smiling out of every newspaper front page today. Her gold medal was not just reward for brilliant athleticism, but also another milestone in the long road to gender equality for women in sport,” said Jowell. “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.”
Currently, the number of women’s events in the Olympics still does not match the number of events held for men. This proves that, although it’s huge that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Brunei all came around and allowed women to compete for them in this year’s games, we’re not quite at equality when it comes to the international sporting games yet.
Keep in mind that the International Olympics Committee (or IOC) is not making any promises about the 2016 games in Rio; but they are making a concerted event, and are confident that we will get there eventually. And hopefully sooner rather than later. As an IOC spokesman said, “It comes as it comes, but we will push it as well. I can’t give a firm commitment that we’ll have everything in Rio, but we’re getting very close.”
During the London Olympics about 44% of those competing are women; this is a huge step up from the 1984 Olympics in which that stat was only at 24%.
One blip this plan could encounter is that the IOC knows that it wants to keep the total number of Olympic events the same; for there to be as many events for women as for men, some of the events for men may need to be cancelled to really even it out. This may cause some backlash, but we’d say that when we finally reach that place of equality, it’ll be well worth it.