Gaborone, hosts successful Working Group on Women and Sport World Conference
by Dora Jeler, High Performance and Development Operations Manager
The IWG vision projects “a sustainable sporting culture based on gender equality that enables and values the full involvement of girls and women in every aspect of sport and physical activity”.
In order to facilitate this, the IWG conducts a quadrennial Progress Report project. Since the last Conference in Helsinki in 2014, this project had been led by an international team of researchers from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences as well as from the English universities of Hertfordshire and Chichester.
The Progress Report presented by the Working Group at this year’s Conference concluded that “a lot of progress has taken place [over the last 20 years] concerning women and sport […]. But there is still work to be done both in old and new areas”.
In the period since the last Conference, the IWG had recommended to prioritize the development of child care provision, support elite athletes when retiring from competitive sport, enhanced preventative measure to ensure the safety of women and girls in sport (particularly with regards to sexual harassment and abuse), preventing eating disorders and injuries and increasing female leadership in different sporting roles.
Speakers at the Conference made presentations on efforts undertaken to fulfil the recommendations but also noted hurdles that are yet to be overcome, such as a continued focus on the promotion of male participants in privatized sports, a lack of equal opportunities and ongoing harassment, which can be sexual, emotional or financial. In leadership, participants and speakers identified the persistent gender imbalance in National Olympic Committees and International Sports Federations. In the example of Commonwealth Federations, this amounts to more than 80 per cent leadership positions still being occupied by men.
Sarai Bareman, the Chief Women’s Football Officer at FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) explained that in tackling these issues, a multi-faceted strategy should be employed, including media, development programmes, competitions, governance, leadership, and social impact, in order to grow participation, enhance commercial value and build a foundation for sport and leadership.
“There is a lot of work set out for us and it’s up to each individual to get up and take action!” – Fungai Zinatsa.