By Nicola Hargreaves on 08/03/12 at 11:08 pm
International Women’s Day (IWD) falls on March 8 every year and is a day of global celebration of women’s achievements. Gender equality is a core value of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and the day may also be adopted as a yearly milestone to assess progress towards this goal.
In 2011 nine national federations had more female participants than male, up from three in the period from 2005 to 2010. The nine include Slovenia, Peru and Paraguay but most notably Poland with 66 female triathletes to 44 male and UAE’s two female triathletes leading the way in a country with no men currently participating.
When considering the nations with the highest overall participation numbers, USA’s female triathletes comprised 37.14% of its national federation in 2011. Great Britain, with the largest number of competing triathletes in the world, had the most females with 543 last year making up 35.91%.
However, it is Japan with sizable participation numbers that is closest to achieving gender equilibrium. Since 2005 its athletes have been on average 45.99% female with the number reaching 47.07% in 2011.
The Netherlands, South Africa and Mexico also had over 40% female athletes among the national federations with over 200 members, this percentage also extended to Canada and New Zealand who had over 500 competing athletes in 2011.
In 2011 women made up 32.9% of the overall number of competing triathletes across all national federations around the world. Many factors have contributed to his number, but it is ITU’s continual push for the development of women in triathlon that is the drive to raise it.
ITU holds the unique position of being the only International Federation to have women at the top two leadership positions with ITU President Marisol Casado and Secretary General Loreen Barnett.
Since ITU’s founding in 1989 it has strived toward improving and increasing the involvement of girls and women within the triathlon movement. It is a matter of great importance to President Casado and reaffirmed by ITU’s notable presence at the recent IOC World Conference on Women and Sport.
ITU holds the principle of equal competition prize money for women and men and giving equal television air time across all World Series events.
Although it is safe to say that participation numbers for triathlon are growing, the sport still sees a far greater male to female ratio. However, the gap is gradually closing and the past ten years has produced a notable shift in numbers.