On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the theme of next year’s IOC World Conference on Women and Sport, which is “Together Stronger: The Future of Sport”. The event will take place from 16 to 18 February 2012 in Los Angeles, USA, and is being organised jointly by the IOC, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games.
Steady increase of women’s participation in the Olympic Games
There is no doubt that women’s participation is key for a healthy society in general, but also for the future of sport. The IOC has made women’s participation in sporting activities and administration one of its major concerns. The participation of women in the Games has increased from 23 per cent in 1984 Los Angeles to 43 per cent at the 2008 Beijing Games. At the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore last summer, 46 per cent of the athletes were girls. With the addition of women’s boxing to the Olympic programme, the 2012 Games in London will have women competing in every sport on the Olympic programme for the first time in history.
Call for more women in leadership positions
However, whilst the clear rise in women’s participation in Olympic events is an important success, additional efforts are needed to strengthen women’s representation in sports leadership positions. The IOC encourages more women to take up responsible positions in sports organisations and has different programmes in place to equip the candidates with the necessary skills and tools to fulfil their tasks. Customised seminars and training programmes help women move into sports administration and other leadership roles. Furthermore, the IOC offers financial support to National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in the developing world for projects that promote equality on the field of play and in sports administration. The IOC’s World Conference on Women and Sport, which takes place every four years, is an important platform to assess the progress made and prioritise future action.
“Together Stronger: The Future of Sport”
The theme for the fifth Conference in Los Angeles stands for the positive evolution in the promotion of girls and women in sport, especially during the last two decades. The call that is linked to “Together Stronger: The Future of Sport” aims to streamline the discussions and efforts of all stakeholders involved to the next level, with women and men working together to remove some of the barriers to gender equality in sport that still exist. The theme also reflects the impact of the increasing cooperation across borders, but also across age groups, which leads to faster and sustainable successes.
The last Conference held in Jordan 2008 attracted more than 600 participants from 116 countries and concluded with a strong action plan, the success of which will also be assessed in Los Angeles.