How the National Football Museum is working towards 50 per cent representation of women in football

4 January 2021

How the National Football Museum is working towards 50 per cent representation of women in football

The visibility of women in football at the National Football Museum includes trailblazer Lily Parr

Women in Football's ground-breaking #WhatIf campaign launched in May 2018 aiming to change the football landscape by helping create new opportunities for girls and women.

In the latest of a special mini-series we take a look at one of the key pledges made since that official launch at Twitter's London HQ and find out what has happened since.

#WhatIf we aim to increase representation of women in football to
50 per cent - National Football Museum

"If you don't know where you've come from, you don't know where you're going," said Maya Angelou, the great American poet and civil rights activist.

The same could be said about women's football, and it's sometimes sketchy history.

But that is where Belinda Scarlett, the curator of women's football at the National Football Museum, has made a pledge of her own to make a difference.

Driven by a determination to ensure that the trailblazers of the game get the recognition they deserve, Belinda is on a mission to ensure that the Museum hits its target of increasing representation of women in football to 50 per cent by 2022.

And she has not let the matter of a global pandemic stop her either!

"We have made great progress towards reaching our target, but we're not at 50 per cent yet," she said.

"When we made the pledge, we knew it would be difficult because the collection of displays is so heavily dominated by the men's game, but there was such a need to balance it.

"We always had a small collection of women's memorabilia, but in 2015 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund, we were able to purchase a private collection of items from America.

"I had to help with the cataloguing of it, which gave me an idea of where the gaps were; the collection was very international based, very World Cup based and it made me realise there was so much from the women's game in the UK that we didn't really know, and if we did, weren't sharing because we didn't have any items."

It has taken the hard work and dedication of Belinda to ensure that come 2021, when the Museum can hopefully open its doors again, some of the displays at the National Football Museum will have a very different look about them.

Football’s first female football superstar Lily Parr will also get a new permanent gallery dedicated to her life and legacy.

"The women's football community has come together and been brilliant in helping fill in so many of the gaps," she said. "Essentially large chunks of history have been sitting in people's houses, whether that is in boxes tucked away, or in the loft, or newspaper cuttings and photos.

"It has been a huge task, and in spite of the challenges that the last few months have brought with the lockdown, we are getting closer to our 50 per cent target, but still have a bit of a way to go.

"It does seem crazy that we even have to argue that museums have a 50/50 balance with women's representation.

"To have visibility for the women's game is massively important. We need to do justice for all those who suffered outright abuse and misogyny back in the 1920s through to the 1960s and 70s, who made sure that women's football survived and have helped it grow since then.

"Their stories needed, and still need to be told and it's a privilege to be in a position with the National Football Museum to try and ensure that happens."

Check out the National Football Museum here.

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