Sarai Bareman and Sarah Walsh on #CrackingtheCode in gender equality through Legacy '23

On International Women’s Day 2023, Sarai Bareman, Chief Women’s Football Officer at FIFA and Sarah Walsh, Football Australia’s Head of Women’s Football, World Cup Legacy and Inclusion, spoke about how the Women’s World Cup can lead to #CrackingTheCode in football.

“It’s so incredible to be celebrating International Women’s Week when we’re only months away from the opening of what will be the biggest FIFA Women’s World Cup ever,” Bareman said.

“It’s a huge platform to highlight the progress that has been made in women’s football and sports.

“I love the fact that we can leverage this event to drive further the progress that we’re making towards a better future for women and girls in our game.”

Walsh agreed, acknowledging the importance of the Legacy ’23 plan in ensuring that Football Australia is thinking differently about creating equity for women.

“The way that it cracks the code is that it reimagines what our sports should look like, pre Covid and pre hosting this major event,” she explained.

“I think a lot of people think about innovation as technological change but for me it’s about thinking differently about how you invest in, or how you create programs that are designed for women.

“It makes me think about how we’ve reshaped the high-performance environment to better include women who want to have children. Someone like Katrina Gorry, we’re starting to see that not only was she supported during her pregnancy, she was also supported in her return to play. The end result of that is actually a better high-performance environment.

“We thought about a really bold and inclusive strategy, and that is Legacy ‘23.”

There is so much work to do to ensure equity of access to opportunities and education for women, especially in the football space. Programs like Legacy ’23 are the beginning but by no means the end point.

For Sarai Bareman, the ideal is to get to a stage where we don’t blink an eye when a woman is in a position of power.

“We need to get to a point where it’s not a celebratory moment when a woman is appointed to a certain position within our sport, or a female referee referees a men’s game,” she argued.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do to bring those into what we call the mainstream, and to have women celebrated for the merits of who they are and what they do, and not just the fact that they are a woman.”

Sarah Walsh concluded with a call to bravery for those women looking to enter leadership roles.

“My advice to communities looking to engage in historically male dominated areas - I would say be bold, because you’re actually paving the way for future generations beyond you,” she said.

“It might be hard sometimes but there’s usually someone that’s gone before you. Be the trailblazer.

“I hope that we’re removing those barriers as an organisation for these communities.”