How the 20×20 campaign changed women’s sports in Ireland

Cara Conboy

20×20 a two-year-long campaign, which aimed to change attitudes towards women’s sport in Ireland,  concluded in October.

Launched in 2018 and developed by the creative agency Along Came A Spider, the 20×20 campaign wanted to increase the visibility of women’s sport across the country.

The message was simple – “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it”. The idea is that by increasing the visibility of women’s sport in Ireland, we encourage the next generation of Irish Olympic athletes and sports stars to get involved.

The 20×20 campaign had three main goals they had hoped to achieve by the end of 2020. They were to increase the coverage of women’s sport, increase female participation in all sport, and increase attendance at women’s sporting events. – all by 20%.

During the campaign period, the founders of 20×20 organised many events and initiatives to achieve those goals.

They founded a monthly award, rewarding excellence in coverage of women’s sport in Irish journalism.

The campaign also focused on the fact that women athletes are often not as idolized as their male counterparts. This has led to a lack of female role models for young girls looking to get involved in sport.

To tackle this, they organised a ”women in sport” roadshow event, with seventeen female sports stars taking part.

Alongside the tagline of “Women’s sport isn’t missing the skill – it’s missing the audience,” a ‘Show Your Skills’ competition was also launched to encourage girls and women of all abilities to showcase their sporting talents.

Partnering with Lidl, they encouraged people to find their favourite way to exercise with the ‘Lidl Moves for 20×20’ initiative. The campaign concluded in October by looking ahead at what the future holds for women’s sport. It’s safe to say it’s been a success.

Despite not being able to record results for 2020 due to the turmoil of Covid-19, the change from 2018 to 2019 was encouraging.

During their finale event in October, campaign co-founder Sarah Colgan revealed that in the first half of the campaign, female participation in sport saw a 13% increase. There was also a 17% increase in attendance at women’s games.

Coverage of women’s sport in print media also increased from 3% total coverage to 5%. Online publications saw a similar increase from 4% to 6%. 

As the sun sets on the 20×20 campaign, we’re left with the question: what’s next for women’s sport?

In the last ten years alone, the record attendance at the Women’s All-Ireland Finals has been broken seven times. Stephanie Roche did the unthinkable, by becoming the first female football player to be shortlisted for the FIFA Puskas Award, alongside Messi and Ronaldo. Women are seen more often frequenting the panels of major sports programmes, especially for big events.

With women more visible than ever before in sport, the future for girls around the country looks very bright.

Cara Conboy

Image Credit: 20×20