Women and Sport: The ChangeMakers
Professor Celia Brackenridge OBE
Scholar | Sportswoman | Activist
Celia co-founded WomenSport International (WSI) in 1994. WSI continues to act as the global voice of research-based advocacy.
The WSI logo signals that it is a global feminist organisation, for women who are tearing down barriers by running out of the establishment
These leaflets were distributed internationally at conferences and meetings, and were among the first written statements on this topic. They have influenced many institutions and organisations.
Annual Report to WSI from the Task Force on Sexual Harrassment in Sport, June 1999, written by Celia as its Convenor. This demonstrates how the Task Force went about its work, as well as the issues it focused on and the range of people involved from different countries.
Annual report written by Celia, as its Convenor. Published in WSI’s newsletter “The Starting Line”, this report shows how the work was developing internationally and through different academic and sporting fora.
WSI Position Statement on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport (2004)
In Celia's words
"When we first established WomenSport International, which is the organisation I have been most involved in, there was a sense of great excitement and focus and I think some key individuals… have done fantastic work since then. But my sense is that we are swimming a little bit against the tide at the moment because the younger generation of women are not as necessarily in tune with what I would call feminist objectives – it’s a little unfashionable to use the word feminism these days – not for me it isn’t, but it seems more generally. And interestingly we were discussing over breakfast today whether that’s because younger women have become seduced by capitalism and consumerism. I’m not sure it’s a thought-through position which is in any conscious sense post-structural or even post-modern but I think that a lot of women think there isn’t an issue. They are not aware of discrimination in the way that we were therefore they don’t see the need to do anything about it, let alone fight for a cause. I think it is very difficult for women leaders at this particular juncture to draw in the younger generation. Those of us who set up the organisation are all getting to retirement and post-retirement stage and the question is, who is going to come along behind us and sustain the struggle?"
interview with Dr Jordan Matthews (2011)
Appreciation of Celia
Professor Kari Fasting Emeritus Professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, co-founder and former President of WSI
Kari has worked with Celia for many years to address issues of sexual harassment in sport, using research evidence to convince sporting organizations of the importance of this issue. Like Celia, she is an influential scholar and activist.
“Celia is one of the founders of WomenSport International, whose mission is “to encourage increased opportunities and positive changes for women and girls at all levels of involvement in sport and physical activity". The idea to found an international umbrella organisation for women and sport came up at a conference in Melbourne in May in 1993, and half a year later in Ottawa it was agreed by a small group of influential women of which Celia was one. The Board (including Celia) was set up, and after the first years with a flat structure, the first election was held. Celia was elected as secretary and served from 1999-2002. From the beginning Celia contributed to the development of WSI including the logo, key objectives and statutes.
Some of the key objectives of WSI that Celia contributed to were that WSI should "identify and promote issues of importance for women and sport", "serve as an international advocacy group", and produce and/or disseminate educational materials and other information to enhance the experience of women and girls in sport and physical activity." Through Celia's work for WSI she contributed strongly to these objectives. First of all through the chairing of one of the first task forces of WSI, "Sexual Harassment", which was established in 1995. After only a few months she produced a pamphlet/brochure on Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Sport with the following content: What are sexual harassment and sexual abuse? Who is at risk? And, always important in Celia's work: What should be done to help prevent sexual harassment and abuse in sport?
A few years later Celia and the task force produced the WSI position statements, containing paragraphs about Trust and Authority: Gender and Sexuality; Hazing; Resilience Building through Sport; Risk of sexual exploitation in sport, and Recommendations for Minimizing the risk of sexual exploitation in sport. Both of these were updated by Celia later as we gained more knowledge about non-accidental violence in sport. These brochures were distributed internationally at conferences and meetings, and were among the first written statements on this topic, and have influenced many institutions and organizations. The content that Celia developed by producing these brochures, she developed further and used in many contexts. Notably it was mirrored in much of her work for the IOC and UNICEF.”