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Betterment of women's sports tackled in forum

MANILA, Philippines – In celebration of Women's Month, Evident Integrated Marketing and PR hosted a forum called Equal Play: Accelerating Progress for Filipina Athletes, to discuss the progress of Filipina athletes in terms of representation and opportunities.

Women in sports was, for a time, not taken seriously. Young girls were discouraged to try their hands at sports like basketball or football and were told that these were only for boys. Sports was meant for boys, and women were meant to dance and other similar activities.

"You have super basic things like not having a women’s toilet in most sports facilities. There was no women’s toilet in the backroom. I had female referees, and the men had to leave the room so that these women could change," said Girls Got Game Philippines managing director Mariana Lopa.

Tin Ferrera, Secretary General of the Philippine Trailrunning Association, shared that it was the same for trailrunning. Out of usually 200 runners in an event, only five were women. Even though participation for the last few years have grown, women are still hesitant to participate in sports like trailrunning because of the many barriers it has for women.

"We want [trailrunning] to be a place where women are participating and are no longer scared. Where there are no more barriers to enjoy the sport. We hope that organizers can make their events more encouraging for women to participate, more friendly for women like changing areas specific to women, and have feminine supplies like pads and tissues," adds Ferrera.

When talking about empowerment, film director Samantha Lee has noticed that society is losing the real meaning of the word, especially during Women's month.

"Empowerment is working for equality until everyone is free. When we talk about safe spaces for women, we're talking about across all aspects of sports [from players to coaches to managers]. It's about making sure the woman besides you has the same freedom and rights as you," said Lee.

But even with women finding success in sports, public opinion hasn't shifted away from that idea that it's unique for women to be great at what has been previously perceived as a manly domain.

"Back in 2011, I