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Country: Spain, Basque Country

Organisation responsible: Basque Government. Department of Culture and Linguistic Policy. Directorate of Physical Activity and Sport

Main topic addressed: Communication and media

Type of resource/practice: Publication and educational tool

Discipline: Multi-sport

Target group(s): All people involved in the field of sport.

Timing: 2008

Language: Spanish and Basque

Brief description of the practice: This is a short and easy-to-use resource that provides guidelines on incorporating a gender perspective into communication and portrayal in the field of sport.

Content and objectives: 

The contents tackled are:

  • Why gender equality is important in communication
  • Why it is important in the field of sport

Specific advice given for writing in Spanish:

Not to make an androcentric use of the language

  • To use abstract generic terms (concrete examples given, e.g., athletes)
  • To use double forms: sportsmen and sportswomen
  • To change the syntax: “we recommend all sportsmen (in Spanish, there is a masculine article for all and for the subject) not to consume...” vs. “It is recommended not to consume...”.
  • To use forward slash, for example in application forms: “Injured athlete”, in Spanish would have to be put in masculine or feminine: “deportista lesionado/a”.
  • To avoid using “@” in formal texts.
  • Specific advice given for writing in Basque. Since this language only has gender in particular words (substantives), concrete examples are given for reminding of their usage (like in English, for example, with the words nephew and niece).

Specific advice for women athletes’ portrayal: not passive or stereotyped attitude - make them visible.
Conclusions: why it is important to change these things if we want to change reality.
Links to other similar materials and resources (guidelines about communication in the field of sport).
A glossary: a list of generic, and masculine and feminine forms, of sports- related terms.

Steps/activities of the practice: The tool was developed as a part of a more general work that the Basque Government did in 2008 with a view to promoting gender equality in Basque Sport Federations (50 federations). The work consisted of designing equality plans in four federations and getting information on communication from all the 50 federations. We asked all federations to send us their statutes, competition rules, an e-mail and some other written information. Web pages were also analysed. Then, we analysed all the documents from a gender perspective, to see to what extent sport federations had incorporated a non-sexist strategy. Finally, we designed this tool/guide that from the beginning was thought to be simple and easy-to-use for everyone. It was published and distributed in paper format and electronically not only among the 50 Basque Federations but also among the additional 150 federations in the Basque Country (apart from the 50 Basque Federations, there are 50 of each sport in each territory or province of the Basque Autonomous Region).
In addition to this, the Basque Government wrote a sample set of norms using non-sexist language, which was distributed among federations with a view to help them adapt their own documents.
The main objective was that Basque Sport Federations see, little by little, the importance of incorporating gender mainstreaming into their communication, and helping them to do it.

Resources required: The work required around 12,000€, including the analysis of all the documents, the design, layout and the publication.

Achievements and outcomes: The federations welcomed the tool in a positive way, and they have kept improving their communication towards a more inclusive way of giving news. It has to be borne in mind that this was just a recommendation and not an obligation. Maybe for this reason we did not come across much resistance. 
In addition to this, there was another, more extensive, document published by the Basque Women’s Institute about non-sexist language in the field of sport. But as that document was longer and more complicated to apply, the short visual one from the Directorate of Sports was much welcomed.

Challenges and limitations: Challenges were that some federations were aware of the importance of incorporating a gender perspective into their communication and others less motivated to start a change.

Follow-up ideas and future plans: This tool has been completed with other tools that have been developed to incorporate gender mainstreaming in sport federations. There are two more guides published by the Basque Government, another one published by the Spanish Government.

Further information: 

In Basque:
In Spanish:

Contact person: Jon Redondo Lertxundi – Director of Physical Activity and Sport of the Basque Government

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