Striking findings of the “Gender and Sport” study: Women comprise only 10% of sportspeople in Montenegro

Women comprise only 10% of all individuals in sport at the national level, they hold only 8.8% of coaching positions, only 13.3% of national-level referees are women and there are no female sport delegates at all – these are striking data on overall gender inequality in sports, revealed in the findings of the first-of-a-kind research about women’s participation in sports in Montenegro.

The purpose of the study “Gender and Sport: Facilitators and Barriers to Participation”, presented by the Program “Game Set Peace”, Gender Equality Department of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the UNDP, was to conduct the first evidence-based research assessing the current status in this area.

Marko Begović, author of the “Game Set Peace” Programme said: “Over the last year, a lot has been done on creating atmosphere for different perception of sports in Montenegro.  In this regard, the study assessing the current position of women in sports provided certain recommendations for directions in sports development in Montenegro”. He explained that the study on gender and sports in Montenegro was part of the efforts of the “Game Set Peace” Programme and its partners, undertaken with an aim to advocate for gender equality in this domain. “This Programme was embraced by the Montenegrin Olympic Committee and the UNDP in Montenegro in June last year.  It’s a unique programme that uses sport as means to achieve Millennium Development Goals, with an emphasis on youth education, promotion of gender equality and environment protection through sports,” said Mr. Begović.

Kaća Đuričković, UNDP Gender Programme Manager said: “In sports, just like in politics, women are highly under-represented, with only 10% participation at the national level. The importance of participation in professional and recreational sports, as seen through the prism of gender dimensions, has not been sufficiently explored so far. Thus, the study that we are presenting today is of special importance. Even though it was obvious that women and girls were under-represented in sports, we now have empirical data to support that fact.” She also pointed out that there was no need to specifically mention the gender income gap, i.e. the difference in values of professional contracts between sportsmen and sportswomen. “This is a generally known fact which gets replicated on the overall society’s appreciation for women’s participation in sport. To put it in simple words, women are not recognized and promoted in sports in a way and to the extent that men are,” Ms. Đuričković explained. “UNDP provided support for this research, and will also continue to support the relevant institutions, especially in terms of establishing a national commission for women in sports that should be followed by a strategy for greater participation of women in sports in Montenegro,” Ms. Đuričković concluded.

Branka Vlahović, Project Manager at the Department for Gender Equality of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, said: “The research shows that women’s clubs and women in sports in general, use very little resources that can be spent at the local level, and the same situation is at the national level, as well. Although the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Media has criteria for allocating resources on gender-based data, the total amount of funds allocated for female sports clubs is not consistent with the general participation of women.” She also reminded that researchers around the world have found that girls’ participation in sport has many positive outcomes. It reduces the risk of developing various diseases, malignancies, and depression and risky behaviour, especially among teenagers. “The Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and the Department for Gender Equality, through the Plan for Attaining Gender Equality that was adopted in 2008, have recognized sport as an important part of their activities, where more righteous relations must be established, enabling women to develop their talents and to have full and active role in this field,” Ms. Vlahović stated.

Cheryl Cooky, Professor at Purdue University and representative of the Women’s Sports Foundations, USA, presented the study findings, and said: “In order for girls to be included in sport, it is necessary to have support from the family, especially its male members, but the media play an important role as well. The increase in media coverage of sports where women participate would help overcome gender stereotypes and create role models for young women and girls.” She also explained that the same amount of money was allocated for sports with higher percentage of women, as for the sports where the percentage of women representation was insignificant. Ms. Cooky also emphasized the necessity for creating a plan for introduction of compulsory physical education for the first 5 grades of elementary schools, and said that physical education teachers should engage girls more, in order to develop their talent.

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The purpose of the study was to conduct the first evidence-based research assessing the current status of girls and women’s sport participation in Montenegro, at all institutional levels. The research identifies who plays sport in Montenegro, and the factors (family, education, economic, gender stereotypes, and so on) that contribute to, or that limit girls and women’s participation in sport.

The study, conducted in 2010-2011, used mixed-methodologies (quantitative data and qualitative focus group interviews) to determine the numbers of girls and women participating in sport, as compared to boys and men in similar demographic categories, and to identify why girls and women do or do not participate in sport as well as to examine sport experiences.


“Gender and Sport in Montenegro: Facilitators and Barriers to Participation” Executive summary of the findings and recommendations