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IF Gender Equality Forum concluded in Lausanne

IF Gender Equality Forum jointly organised by the IOC and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the IF Gender Equality in Leadership Forum (27-28 March) addressed the bold recommendations of the IOC Gender Equality Review Project launched by the IOC on International Women’s Day (8 March), gender-balanced representation in sports governing bodies and how to avoid gender bias.

In his opening speech, Ingmar de Vos, FEI President stressed to the participants:

“Sport is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering female athletes, so while equestrian does have this unique gender balance, we absolutely see the necessity to continue increasing female participation and define policies in the administration of our sport globally to ensure women carry on leading our sport.”

IOC President Thomas Bach gave the keynote address, speaking on the HeForShe solidarity movement, which was created by UN Women, the United Nations organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The electoral process was the theme of the first session, with the Forum discussing ways to develop strategies for a gender-balanced representation in governance bodies. The following session tackled gender equal portrayal. Avoiding bias and stereotypes in the representation of women and men is a crucial step on the path towards gender equality, in all areas of life. The session raised awareness on what constitutes gender bias, the powerful role of sports coverage in shaping norms and stereotypes, and how sports organisations can challenge these norms and set the tone to promote balanced coverage and portrayal of sportspeople – irrespective of gender. Concrete tools were shared with the leaders present, to positively influence how their female athletes are portrayed.

The Forum concluded by exploring how each organisation can ensure inclusion of gender-equality in decision-making bodies. Among the panellists for this engaging session was Bill Beaumont, President of World Rugby, an IF leader championing the cause for gender equality.

He said: “The accountability for the actual delivery of the objectives and tactics of the new Women’s plan rest with the whole organization. Leadership must come from each department with department Heads empowered to take responsibility for meeting their obligations within the plan and support the general manager.”

Closing the Forum, Marisol Casado, IOC Member, President of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and Chair of the IOC Gender Equality Review Project Working Group, concluded: “I have been very inspired by the discussions we have seen today. Now is the hard part.  We have to continue the work that each Federation is doing but we must take bolder steps […] as we each oversee the implementation of these actions.”

The Forum attracted almost 120 delegates representing 25 summer Olympic International Federations (IFs) and five winter IFs.

Weightlifting was represented at the Forum with Heather Allison, Member of the IWF Women’s Commission and Melody Exhenry, Anti-doping and Development Coordinator.

Read the full project here:

IOC Gender Equality Review Project