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Sunday, May 22, 2022

International Women’s Day: Time to Rally Together to break the bias in squash

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England Squash strategy calls for a radical advance in equality, inclusion and diversity
By ANNA VAUGHAN-HAWKINS – Squash Mad Guest Blogger

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus is quoted as saying: “Change is the only constant in our lives.” If we didn’t know it before the pandemic, we all must know it now.

My Dad tells me back in the day he would queue round the block to get a squash court and the phone to the club would be ringing off the hook when court sheets got released. Now, we don’t even queue at the shops and we’re more likely to use our phones for watching videos and playing games. Things have changed…

The new England Squash strategy “Squash in a Changing World” openly embraces this change. It seeks to show who currently enjoys playing and who could enjoy the sport.

It asks us to reimagine how each part of the game can contribute to the sport as a healthy eco-system and drive participation in the game with a radical advance in equality, inclusion and diversity.

Juniors, women and girls, schools, disability groups, community groups, family groups and performance, too, all playing their part together and in balance.

Rally Together is a bold new call to action by England Squash to challenge the predominantly white male faces of the sport to open the door for this change to occur, starting with women and girls but ultimately to open the door for every potential participant.

It’s not about telling people how to behave, lecturing, or dictating. It’s about individual agency and using the International Women’s Day theme of #breakthebias as a platform to encourage as many people as possible in squash to take individual action and sign up and be counted by taking the Rally Together Pledge and become allies of women and girls.

By taking the Rally Together Pledge, individuals commit to:

– Call out sexism including ‘harmless banter’ in ALL environments where I coach or play

– Pledge to share the success stories of women and girls far and wide

– Educate myself on the issues women and girls face and learn that different groups have different needs

– Invite females to coach alongside me and put them forward for opportunities

– Address who I’m following and engaging with on social media so that I hear more female voices

Remember, this pledge is about acknowledging your unconscious bias. When you sign this pledge, everyone who you play, coach, work and live alongside will see the commitment you have made to support 51% of the population.

Sexism is an unconscious bias that we all have, but there are others too, so if the idea of signing up to a pledge to support women and girls feels too extreme try this: swap out sexism for racism, replace women and girls for people of colour, female voices for voices of people with disabilities.

Whichever way you look at this, if you have a problem signing this pledge, we have a problem in the sport.

Sign the Rally Together Pledge.

It’s time to embrace squash in a changing world and #rallytogether.

Sign the Rally Together Pledge now at englandsquash.com/rallytogether

Squash Mad guest blogger Anna Vaughan-Hawkins is a squash coach, player, parent, and developer who has been involved in all levels of the sport from club, county, regional and university level, through to National, International and Masters.

As well as Joint Cheshire County Coach and part owner of an innovative squash consultancy, Anna is a Partnership Engagement Officer for England Squash with a passion for promoting women and girls within the sport.

She says: “As someone who has gained immense value from my involvement with the sport, I have been delighted to help shape the Rally Together campaign with England Squash and to bring the squash community closer together.”

 

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