Women's Sports: Legal Aspects for Equality

Are we finally on our way to equality? Balancing opportunities and remuneration for women who work in professional sports is a necessity. Luckily, the legal evolution of women's sports is a fact. Here’s some important points you should know about it.
Women's Sports: Legal Aspects for Equality

Last update: 14 January, 2020

Women’s sports in all its disciplines and categories have been gaining increasing popularity worldwide. However, gender inequality is still a reality that female athletes must face daily in their profession.

Although relatively late in comparison with other countries, the Spanish law has finally started to include gender equality considerations. Our legal system is slowly assuming its key role in guaranteeing gender equality in our society.

In today’s article, we’ll explore how sports justice has evolved to promote women’s equality in sport.

The law of sport and women’s sports in Spain

The main regulations within Spanish sports legislation are found in the Sports Law of October 15, 1990. As expected, this text corresponds to a reality that’s quite different from the current one. At that time, women’s sport was practically ignored, and even discouraged in certain contexts.

In this light, it isn’t surprising to know that gender equality was one of the great pending subjects of Spanish sports law. Something similar occurs with the notable omission regarding cases of racism, religious intolerance and other types of discrimination in sport.

With the significant changes in our society and the growth of women’s sports, this important issue has become impossible to continue ignoring. After many years of struggle for women’s equality in sports, the draft of the new sports law was finally approved in 2019.

Gender equality in the new sports law

The year 2019 brought an important breakthrough for women’s sports and the rights of women athletes in Spain.

During the first weeks of the year, the Council of Ministers in Spain gave the ‘green light’ to the draft of the new sports law. This rule will eventually replace the old 1990 text.

Women's sport is gaining more and more space in different areas of society.

Although it was several years in the making, the need to translate into civil legislation the struggle of civil society for gender equality has surely motivated its approval.

Of course, the growing profit opportunities with women’s sports have also served as ‘propellers’ to this legal initiative.

Regardless of whether the conscience or entrepreneurial vision of lawmakers has spoken louder, the important thing is that the new law brings concrete measures to promote equal opportunities between male and female athletes.

Women’s sports in the new sports law in Spain

In its second article, the new sports law in Spain is very clear. It demonstrates its objective of generating opportunities for sports to be available to all citizens. In its original text, the General State Administration should develop:

     “[…] Public policies that guarantee equality in access and the subsequent development of physical activity and sport, as well as the promotion of equal integration in the management, government and representation bodies of sports entities provided for in this Law , observing the provisions contained in Organic Law 3/2007, of March 22, for the effective equality of women and men and in the international norms and treaties ratified by the State. ”

In this way, the new sports law recognizes the State as the main actor in the development of concrete measures. These measures will raise the population’s awareness and combat any type of discrimination or intolerance in Spanish sport.

In addition, the normative text expresses the need to align Spanish sports legislation with international guidelines – such as the UN parameters. In turn, this will promote human rights in sport and society as a whole.

Main innovations

To achieve these lofty goals, the new sports law proposes four central innovations regarding the old 1990 text:

  1. Equal opportunities in access to sports scholarships: applicants will have equal rights to scholarship distribution, regardless of gender.
The rise of women's football is increasingly visible in many countries.
  1. Equity in the distribution of economic rewards: institutions should award prizes and remuneration from public money equally among male and female athletes.
  2. Gender parity in the management positions of sports federations: these entities must have at least 40 percent of women in their governing bodies.
  3. Maternity rights for women athletes: they must have the same maternity rights guaranteed by law to all women in Spain.

Finally, this regulation reaffirms the responsibility of the State in this subject. Official institutions have to create the means to make these guidelines viable through competent sports authorities. Similarly, it’s also the public’s duty to ensure that these regulations are fully implemented.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.