It has been 46 years since the United Nations declared March 8 to be International
Women’s Day. And as the fight for women’s rights continues year after year, all areas of society have their role to play and sport is no different.
At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, 48.8% of competing athletes were female, the highest proportion in the history of the Games and a clear demonstration of the Olympic movement’s intent to reach gender equality.
It was fitting then that skateboarding, a young sport which embraces equity, made its debut in Tokyo.
Kat Williams was one of the Australian team coaches and mentors for the female athletes in Tokyo, and has now moved into the role of Skate Australia’s High Performance Athlete Wellbeing and Educational Lead.
As a student of psychology and former athlete, Williams is only too aware of the importance of gender equality across society, noting that sport provides unique opportunities to achieve that goal.
"The power of sport is through its inspiration; it is critical for there to be role models for everyone to identify with,” said Williams. "When there are gaps in equity you don’t get the diversity that makes sports so brilliant.
“I think it is important for this to also translate across to staff in sport and the key stakeholders. Ensuring all voices are being heard is important to continue to move forward in an impactful way."
Like many sports now - particularly in Australia - skateboarding does not have gender-specific programs, rather an inclusive high performance program tailored to the needs of individuals.
"All the athletes get support from their categorisations, not based on their gender,” said Williams. “We also have a very diverse team, where we challenge each other and continue to grow and push in the right direction towards equity.
"Like any new Olympic sport there is so much to learn and adapt but I think when you focus on intentions we are heading in the right place.
“I am so excited to be involved in sports at a time in history when it is shifting in the right direction."
Williams is grateful to many who have come before her, who fought a much harder fight for women’s rights in skateboarding and other sports.
"There have been a handful of very amazing women fighting for women's rights in skateboarding,” she said. “They created a culture, got equal prizemoney, built a market and created platforms for communication and change.
"There is still a long way to go and a lot of past to heal, but it is rewarding knowing we are getting closer.
“There is a good trajectory, and you can already see it benefitting the next generation."