On International Women’s Day, Athlete Ally chatted with three trailblazing women working daily to make sports (and society) more equitable for women and girls.
We took a minute to catch up with Lori Lindsey, a former Professional and Olympic soccer player for the United States Women’s National team; Sarah Decker, a student-athlete who leads the Athlete Ally chapter at Clemson University; and Joanna Lohman, a professional women’s soccer player for the Washington Spirit.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
Lori: It’s an opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve made related to gender equality, but also a time to commit to the work ahead and the activism that’s needed to achieve true equality for women and girls. It’s also a day to life up the voices and experiences of women around the world, and to tell the stories of those who are on the front lines of our fight for parity.
Sarah: To me, International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate all female-identifying individuals, and to reflect on their impact in my life and in society. I think it is also a time to refocus on personal and societal goals, and on the vision for true gender equality.
Joanna: International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the women who blazed the trails of social justice and to inspire further progress towards gender equality.
While we’re seeing greater numbers of women and girls participating in sports, we know there’s significant work ahead to truly achieve gender equality — both in sport and under the law. What will it take to achieve true parity?
Lori: Sadly, we’re watching as our rights continue to be under attack — sometimes from the highest levels of our government. Now more than ever we need to get involved with organizations that are fighting for marginalized communities everywhere. One of the reasons I’m proud to be an Athlete Ally Ambassador is the amazing intersectional activism the organization advocates for. We need to continue understanding that our social justice movements are intertwined, and we need to work to help end oppression for all marginalized communities.
Sarah: I think taking a look at our own biases and internalized thoughts are a great place to start. Channeling a gender-inclusive and equality-focused mindset is a simple way for any person to take steps towards gender parity.
Joanna: To start, it is imperative that Title IX is enforced on all levels to ensure that young women are given BOTH equal opportunity to participate and equal access to resources – money, facilities, dedicated time, etc. Also, the media must make it a point to advocate for female athletes and their valuable contribution to world of sports. As a professional soccer player, it is my responsibility to speak up and use my platform to further push for social progress especially gender equity.
What message do you have for girls around the world wondering if they have the ability to thrive in sport and society?
Lori: I’d tell girls around the world that barriers are meant to be broken. I’d tell them that there are individuals and organizations ready to help elevate their voices and make sure they have every opportunity to succeed in life. I’d make sure they know that telling their truth and living as their authentic selves is one of the bravest and inspirational things to do, and that I’d be proud to help them achieve their goals.
Sarah: If you believe you have the ability to thrive, then you do! I think it’s all about positive self-talk and unshakable self-belief. That, and understanding that the best personal growth comes in the face of adversity.
Joanna: My message is that thriving in sport starts with participation. You don’t have to be a world class athlete to benefit from the power of play. When you step onto the field, into the gym, wherever your athletic passion lies, allow yourself to get lost in the game and the movement. You will find that the act of playing builds essential characteristics like confidence, self-belief, and resilience that will serve you in society for the rest of your life.