Harmony Week 2023: Kate Jenkins on how the power of football can make change in society

Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner and Legacy ’23 ambassador Kate Jenkins spoke this Harmony Week about the power of sport, particularly football, to make change in society.

“Through football, I’ve connected with men and women from so many cultures,” she explained.

It is that diversity that makes football an important vehicle for social change and inclusion.

“In Australia, sport is such a powerful force,” she said.

“I’m so proud to be a Legacy ’23 ambassador. I think football has a real opportunity to be the first sport with 50/50 [gender participation].”

Jenkins emphasised that this change doesn’t just happen on the pitch, it happens behind the scenes as well. In order to achieve equal participation across genders, there must also be a change in leadership.

“The reality is for sport to be inclusive, we need to recognise that there are a number of things that need to change,” she said.

“We need women and girls in governance, in coaching roles. We need them in leadership. We need them as journalists and reporting on the sport, and we need the sponsorship to flow as well as the equal pay opportunities.

“It’s not just that we have 50/50 playing, we have 50/50 in all of those roles including those volunteer roles and people like me as parents on the sideline, even taking photographs. So, everyone can participate and be involved, and everyone is welcome.”

The FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held in Australia and New Zealand in July and August 2023. To host a global event on our doorstep provides a unique opportunity to create a long-lasting legacy for inclusion and women in football.

As a Legacy ’23 ambassador, Jenkins is one of the people who will work on cementing that legacy.

“The World Cup creates a real opportunity to build on all of those things,” she said.

“Those structural things are important.”