Where's the equality?

12 June 2019 | Jo Doverman

With the Women’s Football World Cup currently in full swing, there’s a lot of talk in the press about the equality for men and women. Do men’s football matches receive more air-time than women’s? Should the pundits be made up of all men for the male games and women only for the women’s, for example? Not according to Rebekah Vardy apparently… more on that in Aaron’s recent blog post here.

The popularity in the media of men’s sports over women’s is no secret, but things are certainly changing and the focus is shifting. The bar is sliding to a more equal share of coverage let’s say, for each ‘gendered’ sport – proven this week with the Women’s World Cup rating more popular than the Cricket World Cup!

So, with the media finally showing signs of catching up on all things equal and fair between the sexes, what about on the streets, in the shops, supermarkets in particular? Well this very smoothly(!) leads onto a story I noticed on the Independent this morning, regarding an angry seven-year-old, a good old fashioned handwritten letter, and two of the biggest supermarkets in the UK…

When Immy from Horsham, West Sussex, visited Tesco and Sainsbury’s to spend her hard-earned pocket money on stickers for her new Women’s World Cup book, she was appalled to find only the men’s stickers available at both stores. In a fit of rage, Immy took pen to paper to call out the consumer giants on their lack of equality. In the letter she wrote:

“I love football and I have been very excited about watching the Women’s World Cup. I was given the World Cup sticker book from my football club and was very happy to start collecting my stickers.

“I went to your supermarket today to spend my pocket money on the Women’s World Cup stickers but there wasn’t any there.”

Her letter continues by simply asking the supermarket giants why they sold the men's stickers but not the women's. Further down the letter, Immy accused them both of sending a "bad message" to girls that "women are less important than men”. G’wan, Immy!

Her supportive mum took to Twitter to share the letter with the masses. It was then revealed that Tesco customer services claimed there was simply no room for the Women’s World Cup stickers on the shelves… because the space has been taken up with ‘LOL Surprise stickers’, which feature images of glittery dolls?! Oh, I’m sorry Tesco, forgive us all for thinking girls like sports too, and are interested in more than glittery dolls and pink sparkles!

Sainsbury’s on the other hand does stock the stickers after all – hoorah! Oh wait, at approx. 600 of their whopping 1,423 stores. So, they’re available in less than half? Right, OK…

With Tesco claiming there’s “no room” (really?!?) and Sainsbury’s actively choosing to feature the product in less than half its stores, no wonder the conversations around equality are not yet done.

From a PR standpoint, this doesn’t do much to show they’re supporting a) our own women competing in the World Cup, which many young girls aspire to grow up to do, and b) just women in general – it suppresses any efforts which are being made to achieved gender equality.

By not giving the stickers the shelf space (as petty as it sounds) the retailers are directly favouring men over women and supporting the archaic idea that girls just like pretty shiny things so they wouldn’t be interested anyway.

I hope Immy finds some stickers for her book soon, continues playing football and doing all things less “expected” of a young girl. The world needs more girl champions like Immy – I know there are tonnes out there, they just aren’t given enough of a voice.

Gosh. Rant over.