Iconic football club Manchester United supported IWD's Embrace Equity global campaign

 August 09, 2023

Manchester United is a football team that needs little introduction. 

UK Premier League team, Manchester United is one of the most widely supported football clubs in the world, as well as one of the highest earning and most valuable. This well-known brand brings together a huge global fan base, attracting some of the world's best players and bringing home numerous trophies.

In 2017, Manchester United re-introduced a women's football team after a thirteen-year absence. Now, the team competes in the Women's Super League, the top tier of English women's football, and has already become one of the best supported sides in the game. 

"There's the old phrase 'if you can't see it you can't be it', and I think that really rings true. It is important that women are seen across football, not just in women's football but men's football as well. It's great to see people in the boardroom, on the pitch; we just need to keep showing that those positions exist and help women to see that they can achieve whatever it is that they'd like to achieve in the game," said Manchester United’s Head of Women’s Football Polly Bancroft [pictured below].

MU Polly Bancroft

Manchester United takes social responsibility and community leadership very seriously and the club has its own campaign that encompasses its work within the area of equality, diversity and inclusion internally and externally. #allredallequal is a Manchester United campaign that links all efforts of equality together as the club strives to be the best both on and off the pitch. The initiative showcases its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and reinforces that everybody in the Manchester United family has an important part to play.

Running an impactful awareness campaign 

With its ongoing and tenacious focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, Manchester United marked International Women's Day (IWD) by running an impactful campaign to raise awareness of women's participation in football among its thriving global community.

From members of its women’s team, male allies, staff and fans, Manchester United marked IWD by celebrating inspirational and aspirational women across the world, and highlighted the Embrace Equity theme at the heart of its campaign. "When we embrace equity, we embrace diversity, and we embrace inclusion. Equality is the goal, and equity allows us to achieve that," said Manchester United.

Manchester United's impressive and engaging campaign provided valuable content such as videos and podcasts, as well as events aimed at supporting, developing, and recognizing women across Manchester United. 

Celebrating female role models and their inspiration

A fabulous part of Manchester United's International Women's Day Embrace Equity campaign encouraged club players to open up about the most important role models in their life - from celebrities to family members.

Martha Thomas Manchester United

United Women’s no.9 Martha Thomas recognized her mother as the woman who has had the most impact on her life.

"My mum’s resilience, her determination, the love that she gives, and the kind of person she is has made me want to be a better person and grow up to be a strong woman," said Martha.

The Scottish international is also inspired by seeing the freedom society is affording others to be themselves, adding:“We are becoming a society that’s more open and allows people to be who they want to be. That’s amazing and so inspirational."

Former fellow forward for Manchester United Women Alessia Russo, along with team-mate Mary Earps, named tennis great Serena Williams as an inspiration. "I love seeing women reach the top of their game. Now we are in places where people can see us," said Alessia.

Inspired by her mother and father

Manchester United football

For Manchester United Defender Maria Thorisdottir, her inspiration is her family.

"My inspiration is my family especially my mum and dad. They are a big reason for where I am today," added Maria.

Manchester United women's team

Growing up, Polly Bancroft's parents were huge inspirations and huge enablers for her.

Manchester United's Head of Women's Football explained: "My mum actually saw my interest in football and once she realized it wasn't just a phase, told my dad to go get his coaching qualifications and set up a girls' team in Nottingham to enable me and my friends to play football."

Doing everything for her family

Manchester United football club IWD

Manchester United Midfielder Vilde Boe Risa's biggest inspiration is also her family, as the people she looks up to and shares her life with.

"Whatever they do inspires me, and everything I do is for them," said Vilde.

The importance of role models in football

Manchester United IWD embrace equity

A presenter for Manchester United, Helen Evans emphasized the importance of role models in football.

"Having two young girls and a boy it's really important for them to see role models in football and particularly for the girls. You know, I go to school now and see little girls carrying Manchester United backpacks. That probably wouldn't have happened whenever I was at school, so it's really nice for girls to see that, and it's just normal for them," said Helen.

Learning everything from his mother 

Harry Maguire Manchester United IWD

Club captain Harry Maguire is among Manchester United men’s first-team players eager to highlight the influential women in his life, starting with his mother. 

"My biggest female inspiration is my mum, she’s taught me everything I know. I wouldn’t be sat here today doing an interview for Manchester United if it wasn’t for her, I’ve learned a lot from her, and she’s guided me down the right path," explained Harry.

Manchester United's no.5 was keen to recognize the growth of women’s football over the years, continuing: “It’s really important over the last couple of years that the women’s game has really pushed on, and rightly so. The standards and quality is there for everyone to see. It’s amazing to see United Women doing so well, and the support that the fans are giving them is rightly deserved.” 

Celebrating players as an inspiration 

Marc Skinner Manchester United

Head coaches for the women’s and men’s teams, Marc Skinner and Erik ten Hag, shared the people in their lives who have a positive impact on them, with the former giving a special shout out to the players he works with on a daily basis who inspire both him and his daughter.

“At home, I have two inspirational women that I live with every day, one is a four-year-old and one is my partner in life. They inspire me; there is literally nothing I adore more in my life than those people. And then I get to come to work and be inspired by the most inspirational people. I hope that we continue to move towards equality for everyone, to equity in every sense," explained Marc.

Inspired by his mother and his wife

International Women's Day Embrace Equity

Head Coach Erik Ten Hag also cited his family as his inspiration. 

“Of course my mother [is the inspirational woman in my life], second, but definitely not second place, is my wife, because she is always there, always supporting me, she always goes where I go, but she still has her own opinion, she is strong and has her own life," said Erik.

Manchester United women's role model

Midfielder Fred's role model is his mother. 

"All my life, she's my inspiration," he commented.

Learning everything from his mother and grandmother

Manchester United IWD

His mother and grandmother have always been there for Tyrell Malacia, Manchester United Defender. 

"Whether it's bad or good, I'll always come to them. They've taught me everything and I love them," added Tyrell.

Growing up among strong women

Manchester United Embrace Equity

Growing up, his mother and grandparents were massive influences for Manchester United Goalkeeper Jack Butland. They took me to football, taught him lessons, kept him humble, and kept his feet grounded.

"I've been fortunate to have some incredible women in my life. With my wife, my mum and my mother-in-law, I've got some very strong women. I'm very lucky," commented Jack.

Hosting events to encourage sports participation

As part of the IWD campaign, Manchester United Foundation also hosted a series of events in partnerships with local schools to encourage female participation in football and boost industry diversity.

Manchester United partnered with Great Academy Ashton High School as part of the FA Let Girls Play initiative, which targets girls and encourages them to get involved, or try, football.

At Manchester United's Theatre of Dreams, an entertainment center in a historic district of Beijing, schools joined a networking event with the Club's female staff and professionals, sharing experiences of current roles and pathways in employment.

Finally, at Manchester United's training ground The Cliff in Salford, UK, the Foundation hosted disability tournaments aiming to break down barriers and see both disabled and non-disabled students participate together, while encouraging female participation.

Hear amazing stories from United women 

Listen to Manchester United's insightful podcast episode led by presenter Helen Evans, which celebrates women in football. In this special IWD podcast episode, hear some amazing stories from fans, both local and worldwide, who have been following United for decades. Individuals working in sport share what Manchester United means to them, as well as how the industry can continue to improve for everyone.

Listen to the full podcast episode.

Reshaping and expanding coverage of the game

Manchester United is certainly embracing equity in all areas of the club. During the IWD campaign, Manchester United highlighted its efforts to reshape and expand coverage of United Women, which is set to bring its fans closer to the game.

As well as the growing number of fans in stands, Manchester United has also seen an exponential rise in engagement and following across the United Women dedicated social accounts. Since launching the accounts, the women’s team have become one of the most followed Women's Super League sides. 

Expanding in-depth analysis within its United App

Manchester United also focuses on fan accessibility. Recognizing that not everybody can attend or watch the games live, the Club introduced an expanded and in-depth analysis within the United App. Fans can now select their Favourite Player from the women’s squad and receive personalized content via United Now Stories and the My United section of the app. Manchester United also sees a new feature enabling fans to quickly discover the latest women's team action, news, and views by filtering the news feed on that app visit to only show women’s content. 

Furthering coverage and strengthening fan participation, Manchester United launched its inaugural United Women Player of the Month poll in January 2023, prior to International Women's Day. Over 80,000 votes were cast, leading to the world’s best goalkeeper Mary Earps winning the award.


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