It’s been a huge week for equal pay in sport, thanks to an excellent announcement from the World Surf League about the future of surfing.
As we reported yesterday, the WSL has announced that from 2019, female athletes will be paid the same amount as male athletes, across 180 global events.
In response, 6X World Surfing Champion Stephanie Gilmore has penned a joint piece with 11X champion Kelly Slater about how proud they feel about the sport, while other stars of the sport have spoken out about what the announcement means to them.
Seven by World Surfing Champion Layne Beachley also shared how proud she is of the sport, writing on Instagram that surfing is now leading the way in the global equity pay debate.
“To my peers and competitors, todays announcement brings justice and reason to our battles on the waves and in the boardroom,” she wrote.
20 years ago I won my first ASP World Title. It was one of the most exciting and satisfying moments of my life. In that year (1998) I won 5 events, the Triple Crown and earned US$75,000… https://t.co/g47Gx3aXJq
— Layne Beachley (@LayneCBeachley) September 6, 2018
Gilmore described it as a very “special” day for the sport, before going on to say what it’s been like being a female surfer. She writes about growing up in NSW, and not really thinking much about how differently male and female surfers were treated until after the 2010 season. She had just won her fourth world championship, and was in talks with potential sponsors who just could’t appreciate that she’d won four straight world championships.
“My achievements were just as good, if not far better, than those of many of my male counterparts. But it was a struggle even to get companies that had shared in my successes to put up the same kind of cash they were giving to the men.
I just remember thinking, Why is my world title worth less than theirs?
Gilmore believes the increased financial support will be an excellent incentive for more women to get involved, and noted the famous Nelson Mandela quote that, “Sport has the power to change the world.”
“I truly believe that,” she writes. “And I really hope this decision can be the start of a much bigger movement not only in sport, and eventually, in society.”
Kelly Slater shared how much women’s surfing has grown in recent years, noting it’s rare to paddle out and not see multiple women surfing. He recalled seeing Layne Beachley surf for the first time, and being in absolute awe of her talent.
“To watch what these women do … I mean, what they are able to do out there is every bit as difficult and as dangerous and as impressive as what any man on the tour does,” writes Slater.
“And starting now, they’re going to receive equal prize money for it.
“The decision by the WSL is a message to society — that equal prize money should be the standard.”