Advancing the Contribution of Women to Sport
Elida Alfaro has many singular achievements, and she iswell known in Spain as an advocate of equal opportunities in sport. Quite importantly, she is known as the first and only woman to date, to have served as Director of the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport - INEF of the Polytechnic University of Madrid [UPM]. By being a gymnast herself and becoming the leader of a sporting institution, she broke two gender stereotypes – namely, that men are the ones good at sports and, also, they should have the decision-making power in the field.
In the field of sports, various actors emphasize the need to eliminate gender stereotypes and to acknowledge its gendered nature. As a result of some of Elida Alfaro’s work, the Spanish government and sports’ bodies have now incorporated policies to achieve gender equality. Measures have also been implemented so that sporting policy considers women’s different needs. These are supporting programs aimed to eliminate, or at least minimise, the barriers that women still face, when trying to access different sports. Especially those considered as male sports (hockey, basketball, rugby, football or shooting, etc.).
Pioneered ground-breaking changes in teaching sports
Mixed gender teaching in physical education, has always been important for Elida Alfaro. She has pioneered for changes for over 40 years while clearly outlining the benefits of co-education in physical education. In 2011, she co-authored “Speak for Sport”, which gives guidance on the usage of inclusive language in this field. Also, she has successfully promoted the need to assess the university sports policy and its different implications for women and men. Due to her persistent efforts, Sport and Gender has become a core curriculum item for Sports Science courses at INEF. Although some progress has been made, she says, “… there are still significant inequalities between women and men when analyzing levels of practice and the way that both women and men are perceived in sports.”
The secret to success – a passion to demonstrate how women can excel!
Elida Alfaro has been involved in sports since the early age of 10. Within just a few years she was selected for the National Gymnastics team, representing Spain in 1959, 1960, and in 1961. Her ceaseless drive to achieve greater recognition and leveling the playing field for all participants is evident throughout her life.