By Beverly Smith
Published August 6th, 2012
Canadian paddler Laurence Vincent-Lapointe watched on television, thousands of miles away, when IOC president Jacques Rogge announced at the opening ceremonies that every country at the Olympic Games was, for the first time, sending a woman to compete.
“This is a major boost for gender equity,” he said, to great applause.
But not for Vincent-Lapointe, a three-time world champion paddler. The IOC allowed women’s kayak onto its schedule this year, but no races for canoe. The world/canoe championships did not offer races for female canoeists until 2010.
“The definition of equality being used is extremely superficial,” said Kathleen Lahey, a law professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. who spearheads an ongoing review project of gender equity among interested law students.
The major problem that women face in sport is not the hijabs, beach volleyball bikinis, and suggestion of skirts for women’s boxing and badminton, although all of them are disturbing issues, she said.
“I would look beyond the clothing issue,” Lahey said, who believes that if sport organizations fixed the financial support issue to women, that women’s sport would advance more quickly.
Women still have difficulty getting access to Olympic sport and even to sport at the grassroots level, she said. Although Canada’s Olympic team is 55.96 per cent female – the highest percentage in Olympic history - and the United States is fielding more women than men for the first time, financial support doesn’t trickle down to female athletes from their sporting associations as readily as it does for the men, even down to the local levels, Lahey said.
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Published August 2012