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Two sporting legends come together to discuss women’s rights and equality

Two sporting legends recently joined forces to celebrate a decade of campaigning for women’s rights and equality. Virtual event WEN at TEN saw the Women’s Equality Network Wales (WEN Wales) bring together inspirational women from all walks of life to honour the work done so far, to discuss how to create further change and to launch its ambitious fundraising campaign.

Established 10 years ago, WEN Wales seeks to place gender equality and women’s rights at the heart of decision making in Wales, so women’s voices are heard on the issues that affect them most.

Jess Fishlock MBE, Wales’ most capped footballer and recently named as the United States National Women’s Soccer League’s most valuable player, joined the academic and sporting legend Professor Laura McAllister in an open conversation about women in sport and how to create change.

Jess said, “Sport is bigger than just sport, social media has created a platform for athletes to try and make a change. I had a choice whether I wanted to use that for things bigger than myself and my sport. Being around other great, influential women and people helped me to understand if I can create some change then I should at least try.”

Discussing the issue of equal pay in sport Jess continued, “It is not just about pay it is about much more and the message it gives.

“The question is how can we get women in places where we can create the change.”

“Creating change for women, and women’s sport and equality, it’s not just going to be women helping women, it’s going to be men helping women because that’s what actually needs to happen. And we need to make sure that whoever we have on the board, whether they’re male or female, we need them to have respect for women, for the women’s game and for equality everywhere.”

Professor Laura McAllister, who was recently announced as the co-chair of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales agreed, “In a sense we have to have the two things happen simultaneously, we’ve got to persuade the men in power to work with us now. But there has to be a time when some of them step aside to have a woman’s voice heard.”

Jess talking about her determination about representing the LGBTQ+ community said,

“I will always fight and stand up for the LGBTQ community, really for anybody that I feel needs help but I will advocate for our community. I feel extremely lucky to be able to live my life now as a very free and open, happy, content lesbian. But the truth is that there’s not many people that can do that, and that’s really, really hard.

“I have realised from travelling the world that cultures are so different and you can learn from that. Going forward I definitely want to go somewhere that will help make a difference and create more change for women’s rights and equality.”

Catherine Fookes, Director of WEN Wales added, “It was great hearing an open and frank discussion about some of the challenges women face, for example gender pay gap and men in boardrooms.

“I can add to that inequality in women’s health, violence against women, constant online abuse and a big push for us here in Wales on diversity and equal leadership.

“We would like to thank all the inspirational women that took part in our celebratory event, it was a great success and wonderful to hear so many stories, ideas and visions for the future.

“We are very proud of the work we have accomplished but there is lots more to do. On this momentous occasion, our 10th anniversary year we would like to launch our fundraising campaign – WEN at TEN.

“On Saturday 30th April 2022 we will be taking part in a team sky dive and have 10 spaces for our WEN at TEN sky dive. Megan and I have already signed up from WEN Wales and are looking for volunteers. Would you like to join us and jump 10,000 feet and help us raise as a team £10,000? Please do get in touch at [email protected].

“Or you can choose your own workout for WEN at TEN – walk 10,000 steps, swim 10K, run 10K, whatever you do please get involved and support us if you can. To find out more or to donate please go to our justgiving page https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wenatten.”