Oceania Rugby’s commitment to increasing the participation and leadership of women and girls in rugby across the Pacific has been reinforced by a new partnership with UN Women. Oceania Rugby has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, known as UN Women, which is the global champion for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
Oceania Rugby President Richard Sapias explained that often the perception in Pacific societies is that rugby is a sport for men, so to partner with UN Women to change these incorrect ‘social norms’ is a fantastic opportunity to support the many women and girls in rugby.
“Oceania Rugby, World Rugby and UN Women have a shared interest in making opportunities for girls and women to participate in all parts of community life. We want to work together to make sure rugby creates opportunities for girls and women to get the same benefits from being players, coaches, officials and managers as everyone else.” World Rugby - Rugby Services Manager Oceania, Bruce Cook noted “the work being done and the investment by Oceania Rugby and World Rugby into the growth of women’s rugby in the region is really gaining momentum. This is reflected in the highly significant number of girls and women currently participating in the Get into Rugby programs, as well as an increase in interest in off-field activities and administration. This partnership will reinforce and strengthen this endeavour.” Research by the University of the South Pacific undertaken in 2016 indicated that partnerships with community organisations, diverse opportunities for entry level participation, supportive coaches and encouragement from peers all contribute to more girls and women taking up the game. In announcing the new partnership, Aleta Miller, UN Women’s Representative for the Fiji Multi-Country Office (MCO) that works across 14 Pacific Island countries, said " we are excited to work with Ocenia Rugby to help lower the barriers to participation in rugby for girls and women“We are privileged to have the opportunity to work alongside Oceania Rugby to promote mutual respect and access for both women and men to participate more equally in this sport that’s so loved by communities across the Pacific,” said Ms Miller, UN Women Fiji MCO Representative. “Our organisations share a mutual commitment to use our mandates and influence to work together on key messages and activities that promote gender equality and challenge social norms through sport,” Ms Miller said. The announcement was made at the opening of the Oceania Rugby’s Superweek Event in Nadi, Fiji that comprises 10 days of workshops, rugby training camps, sector meetings, celebrations and rugby events.