A powerful new network, Women in Sport Murihiku, has been created to ensure that women and girls remain valued, visible and influential in Southland sport.
While female sport is undergoing something of a global and national renaissance at the moment, Southland is already well advanced in ensuring that women and girls have access to the physical and mental benefits which come through being active.
Southland is the first region in New Zealand to form a local network of Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA), following a presentation last year by WISPA chairwoman Julie Paterson.
Southern Steel chief executive Lana Winders has been elected as Women in Sport Murihiku’s inaugural chairwoman, with the goal of making sure Southland’s women and girls are valued, visible and influential in sport.
“It’s exciting to get to this point and I’m very proud of where we are at. We have worked hard over the past few months to identify what the purpose of Women in Sport Murihiku will be, and where we can be most effective,” Winders said.
“Ensuring sport is accessible for women and girls at all levels is important because participation in sport and recreation grows future leaders and role models and we believe that Southland sport will benefit from having more female leaders.”
The Women in Sport Murihiku network currently includes members from across the community, including representatives from community funders, local government, business and the sports sector.
“We’ll be using data and insights to identify the areas where we can have the most impact on the sporting system,” Winders said.
“We are seeing a decline in participation in sport nationally and globally and we believe one of the ways to fix that is to ensure there is more diversity amongst our sporting decision makers and a better understanding of what influences all of us to be active.”
A recent survey by Sport Southland showed that 43 percent of regional sports organisations in Southland have female representation on their board, which is well ahead of the national average (37 percent).
“Everyone deserves to have access to the opportunities which come from being active and being involved in sport, regardless of gender, ability, financial situation, where you live or any other factor,” Winders said.
“At the governance level, or any other level, we do not believe in promoting women just for the sake of it. Our aim is to support women and boards so that we have the best people making decisions about how sport is run in Southland.”
Anyone interested in being part of the network, or who would like support in becoming involved in sports governance, can contact Winders for more information.