Barriers to women participation in sport and recreation from the perspective of les priviledges and high-developed countries

Por: Evdokia Muratidou, Jadranka Kocic, Ruzena Popovic e Sladjana Jovanovic.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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The barriers to women participating in sports are well documented even in the developed countries. In the field of Social Attitudes, many women, in particular working class women with children do not consider that they are entitled to organize leisure or sports activities outside home. Social constraints remain strong barriers to women’s involvement in sports and particularly in the performing sports (previous findings in the home country point out that 82% of examined subjects were never actively involved in Competitive Sport). Support from families, partners and friends is essential for women in overcoming and facing the external pressures. The validity of high level sports performance by women should be continually recorded and their engagement and dedication supported.


A questionnaire was applied in this study to evaluate the Social Attitudes, Psychological and Physical Barriers to women’s participation in sport and recreation in four different countries: Serbia & Montenegro and Macedonian FYR (as the under privileged countries) and Greece and Italy (as the high-developed countries). The research was carried out in Nis (the 2nd large city in Serbia) and Skopje (the capital of Macedonian FYR), as well as in Athens and Rome on the sample of more than 150 subjects for each of specific country groups of youths and adult female persons of 15-50 years old (divided in five age categories). The questionnaire consisted of 17 questions with possibility of offered alternative answers. Research results were processed with non-parametric statistics procedure.


There are strong views as to which sporting activities are considered suitable or unsuitable for girls and women. Evidence suggests, however, that both physiologically and psychologically there is little difference between the average man’s and average woman’s capabilities to achieve excellence in sport. Many women lead multi-complex lives, which lead to feeling too tired to consider participation in sports and physical activity. Reasons for involving women in sport or recreate activities on the base of previous elaborated study are: a) to keep physical abilities 44%; b) health 16%; c) aesthetic 23%; d) social 5%; e) the rest of duties 11%; f) others 1%). Most women have primary responsibility for housework, childcare and care for older people. This can mean that it is difficult for women to plan sports and leisure activities. The additional time involvement in training for higher-level competition can determine a further barrier to women. For women the motherhood demands the "performance break", which is not always seen as a natural part of women’s sporting career, and frequently women feel pressed into choosing between the two (motherhood and competition).

Discussion / Conclusions

Governing Bodies and coaches should take into account women’s commitments when considering the training patterns and competitive requirement of their sport. Women can find a lack of transport a principle barrier to their participation in sport at all levels. This is especially the case with older women, women with young children, those living in rural areas and one car families where the main earner uses the car during the day; Means of transportation: a) on foot 75%; b) by bicycle 4%; c) by public transport 9%; d) by one’s own car 12%. Further complications compile for women training for top-level sports, as they are required to travel to places with specialized training facilities and to competitions. Fewer women than men are able to make a living from professional sport and are, therefore, less likely to take up a performance sport full-time, so they prefer other physical activities. Women’s recreate activities are: 1) Walking 8%; 2) Running 3%; 3) Bicycle riding 11%; 4) Swimming 18%; 5) Mountain climbing 4%; 6) Sport games: a) Basketball 4%, b) Handball 2%, c) Volleyball 5%; 7) Aerobics 21%; 8) Dance 2%; 9) Fitness 7%; 10) Artistic gymnastics 1%; 11) Rhythmic gymnastics 1%; 12 Bowling 2%; 13) Tennis 5%; 14) Horse riding 4%; 15) Shooting 1%; 16) Folkdance 1%. For the workingwomen the support of their employers is essential, but the lack of recognition of women’s sports sometimes means this support is not forthcoming and the work’s responsibilities can prevent women from realizing their full potential.


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