The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is forging a bold new path in advancing gender equality in the sporting arena and beyond, as the IOC session received today an update from the gender equality review project. following the IOC Executive Board approval of 25 bold and challenging recommendations, the IOC is leading the way in raising awareness of the importance of gender equality on and off the field of play.
From governance to human resources, to funding, sport and portrayal, the IOC is focusing on achieving tangible results to strengthen gender equality across the entire Olympic Movement through these action-oriented recommendations. The ultimate goal is to assist in removing barriers preventing women and girls from participating in sport at all levels.
Chair of the IOC Gender Equality Review Project Marisol Casado said: “While recent years have seen improvements in gender equality in sport, we need more, and we need to do it quickly. These 25 recommendations aim to make substantial change and swiftly. The IOC is in a prime position to lead the way in bringing parity in gender equality, and today’s decision is a giant step forward toward achieving our objective.”
There are 25 recommendations: 8 in areas in which the IOC has already made significant progress; 8 of which the IOC will lead with an implementation plan currently under development; and 9 of which are for International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to lead. The next step is to publish the full report and develop an approach to undertake gender equality assessments within the broader Olympic Movement and beyond.
The Gender Equality Working Group was led by Casado, an IOC Member and President of the International Triathlon Union. She was joined by IOC Members, NOCs, and Summer and Winter IF representatives who had been selected for the leadership of gender equality efforts within their own organisations.
One of the key actions is centered around avoiding portraying gender bias and stereotypes. A pilot programme is already underway at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, where a set of principles and guidelines for balanced portrayal of both genders has been shared with IOC stakeholders. They have been asked to “road test” these guidelines in their own activities during the Games, and to share feedback and comment on their experiences.
Using this stakeholder input, the next step will be to build a robust set of gender portrayal guidelines that can be implemented widely. Closely collaborating with stakeholders in gathering and responding to their valued feedback will lead to a strengthened sense of ownership, and to enhanced implementation of the guidelines throughout the IOC and the wider Olympic Movement.
The IOC’s strategic objective around gender equality calls for growing female participation at the Olympic Games to 50 per cent. This significant, yet achievable, increase will build upon recent advances in gender parity at the Olympic Games. For example, in London in 2012, there was a 44 per cent female participation rate. Further expanding female participation, the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 boasted the highest-ever number of women competitors, with female athletes comprising 45 per cent of total participants.
Further demonstrating progress, on the final day of the Games, equal numbers of women’s and men’s events will take place. This groundbreaking achievement represents a major stride forward, as both the 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games did not host any women’s events on their final days of competition.