International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked annually on the 8 March and aims to support and celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. To commemorate this day the FAW are taking a look back at the recent advancements and achievements it has seen across the game for women and girls both on and off the pitch.
The International Women’s Day campaign theme for 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. The FAW identify that achieving gender equity across the Cymru international teams is key to ensure best support and development of all Cymru players.
In January 2023, the FAW announced a significant agreement in which together, the Cymru Women’s and Men’s National Team players agreed to an equal pay structure for future international matches, covering the period up to and including the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the 2027 FIFA World Cup. The FAW hopes the equal pay agreement sends an important message to the senior Cymru players of the future, who will now be at an equal footing when representing the country and putting on the shirt.
FOR US. FOR THEM. FOR HER.
The notion of showcasing that there is an incredible future for girls in the game in Wales was key in the messaging of the Cymru Women’s recent World Cup Qualifying campaign, illustrating a higher purpose to: “Play for change. Play to inspire. For us. For Them. For Her.”
Juice Menace’s collaboration with the FAW on the track “For Her” details the importance of inspiring a future generation of footballers, acknowledging former Cymru internationals that paved the way in addition to the goals and aims of the players in the current Cymru squad.
On the collaboration, Juice Menace shared “I feel honoured to be asked to work on this song. I hope I have created a soundtrack that can empower young girls and women across Wales and beyond, it really is a track ‘For Her’.”
This campaign inspired not only those on the pitch but new audiences too, with each of the qualifiers achieving new record attendances, with an impressive 15,200 supporters attending Cymru’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Round 1 Play-Off against Bosnia- Herzegovina.
Breaking attendance records have also been achieved across the FAW’s women’s domestic game this current season, where a special enthusiasm and support for the Genero Adran Premier has seen a significant growth in audiences.
Swansea City’s opening day fixture against Cardiff Met at Swansea.com Stadium first set a league attendance record in the women’s game, with 1,426 fans taking in the fixture in September. But it was Cardiff City’s clash with Abergavenny that set a new record attendance for a FAW domestic league game (women’s or men’s) in Wales, with 5,175 turning out at Cardiff City Stadium.
However, this growth across the women and girls’ game hasn’t just been present in audiences. The FAW has recorded an incredible 89% growth in participation in football for girls over the past 5 years. This growth of the game is part in thanks to the FAW’s creation of new and unique programmes and activations which encourage and develop girls.
These include; the FAW’s Huddle, Powered by Weetabix, an introductory programme for girls, age 4-11, to learn to love football in a safe, fun and friendly environment with over 60 providers across Wales. Over 70 Primary Schools in Wales are delivering UEFA Disney Playmakers, a fun and safe introduction to learning football, for 5-8 year old girls, through movement, play and the magic of Disney storytelling. Over 60 Secondary Schools now also deliver the FAW’s Be Football Schools Programme in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust which supports the development of young female leaders in life skills such as confidence, leadership and teamwork, whilst engaging more girls through football in a Secondary School setting. This programme has currently inspired 84% of girls in participating schools to play football in their PE lessons.
To support with the retention of women and girl’s players the FAW launched Environments: For Her, a resource pack which outlines barriers and solutions to pave the way for the future of the female game in Wales. This includes a toolkit, workshop series and practical clinics for coaches and stakeholders to understand how to make their environments more inclusive.
Off the pitch, in October 2022 the first FAW Youth Council was launched, which aligned to good governance practices, comprises of a 50/50 gender split with a female chair. This FAW Youth Council aims to provide a platform for young people to influence change and decision-making in Welsh football, whilst developing themselves as young leaders and ambassadors of the game.
BE FOOTBALL MENTORING
The past year also saw the creation of the ‘BE. Football: Mentoring Programme For Her’ which hopes to build the confidence of women aged 18+ who want to aid their career progression in football. Year 2 of the Mentoring Programme launches this International Women’s Day and will see 16 Mentors and 16 Mentees join to support the development of football in Wales.
ON THE WORLD STAGE
2023 has also already seen two incredible announcements which will see two former Cymru Internationals representing Wales on the World Stage. Referee Cheryl Foster will officiate on the biggest stage of all this summer, after being confirmed as one of the referees for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Professor Laura McAllister has been announced as the sole candidate for the UEFA Executive Committee female member position, the first time a representative from Wales will be elected to a position on European football’s governing body.
Commenting on the advancements across the women and girls’ game in Wales, FAW Head of Women & Girls’ Football Lowri Roberts said, “We’ve shown that through investing in women and girls we can create a movement for social change and show young girls that they matter, they count, and if they want to pursue a career in football, both on and off the field then they are welcome and they will be supported.
“We know we must continue to invest, support and elevate “her” to ensure women’s football achieves its full potential and work collaboratively to connect the top of the game with the grassroots and build on this momentum in 2023.”
FIND OUT MORE
Learn more on how the FAW will fulfil its mission to create the best environment, support structures and opportunities to accelerate the growth of women’s football in the 2026 Strategy, “Our Wales: For Her”.