In March 2020, when Covid-19 seemed like a faraway issue that was unlikely to have much of an effect on Australia, the Lounge hosted the launch of Active Women: UNSW 2025 Women in Sport and Active Recreation Strategy.

While the last two years have been filled with uncertainty, the Active Women Strategy has made great strides in achieving key goals against the odds.

One of the most significant achievements has been the strategy being named as a finalist for the International University Sports Federation (FISU) Gender Equality Awards.

The FISU supports projects that increase the participation of women in the university sport movement and encourages its “members to develop these projects in order to inspire others to increase their efforts and resources committed to this topic”.

The UNSW Active Women Strategy joined other projects from across the world thathave made significant efforts to advance and achieve gender equality within university sport.

“I am delighted to see this UNSW initiative recognised on the world stage,” UNSW Deputy Vice-Chancellor Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Professor Eileen Baldry said of the nomination.

“The Active Women Strategy is an excellent example of the University’s ongoing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

“Gender equity is central to this commitment; we strive towards it across UNSW, whether it be in the classroom, in the boardroom or on the sporting field.”

Another significant achievement of the strategy has been the introduction of the annual Alex Blackwell Award at the UNSW Blues and Sport Awards Dinner.

The award celebrates members of the community who uphold the values and vision of the strategy.

This can be through advocating for women and girls in sport and active recreation; being a trailblazer for women in the leadership of a sporting club or organisation; coaching or developing programs that have increased women’s participation in sport; or supporting or being a role model for girls and women who want to participate or be involved in sport.

Blackwell was delighted to have the award named in her honour.

“UNSW has shown great commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion through its sporting programs,” she said.

“The launch of the Active Women Strategy showed a strong dedication to the pursuit of fairness in sport and this new award (is)  a key part of recognising the champions in our community.

“It’s a great honour to have the award named after me.”

Other key goals that have been reached in the past two years include the development of baseline participation data tools, an action plan for promoting the strategy through online channels, the launch of the Active Women Strategy page on the UNSW Sport website, the establishment of a governance model and the inclusion of an Active Women policy in the new UNSW Sport Scholarships Strategy.

The next phase of the strategy will encompass the opening of the new, state of the art Village Green Wellness Precinct on the Kensington campus which will offer even more opportunities to level the playing field.

The precinct will include outdoor exercise equipment, a running and walking track and multi-purpose courts, maximising the ability for women to participate in casual and planned active recreation.

There will also be programs developed for social and competitive sport that will focus on building gender equity in sport, on campus.

The changing nature of the world has thrown up significant challenges throughout the life of the Active Women Strategy and no doubt these challenges will continue to arise.

However, the bold nature of the goals in the strategy were created through determination to make change and this determination will continue to push the Active Women Strategy forward in the years to come.

A panel discussion at the launch of the Active Women Strategy

The launch of the Active Women Strategy in March 2020. Photo: UNSW Sport