Former IOC Athletes’ Commission chair Angela Ruggiero explains why the IOC Gender Equality Review Project could have such a far-reaching impact across the Olympic Movement
Fostering gender equality and enabling women to be successful across the Olympic Movement is a key initiative of the IOC and the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC).
The IOC Gender Equality Review Project is something we’ve been working on over the past year in partnership with the IOC Women in Sport Commission, and I’m delighted to say that earlier this week we had 25 bold and challenging recommendations approved by the IOC Executive Board (EB).
This is just the latest step of a process that athletes have been involved in from the start, and which builds upon recommendation 11 of Olympic Agenda 2020, and the decades-long leadership the IOC has demonstrated in championing the cause of gender equality.
Athletes leading the way
In a joint initiative with the Women in Sport Commission, the IOC AC formed the Gender Equality Working Group in March 2017. To ensure that the best possible voices were at the table, invitations to participate were sent to IOC members, representatives from International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs), based on their past and current work in making gender equality a priority within their organisations.
By listening to these constituents, we wanted to see what we could learn – and what recommendations we could put forward – to better enhance girls’ and women’s participation across the entire Olympic Movement, and to create a roadmap for the work to be done over the coming years.
Chaired by IOC Member Marisol Casado, our Working Group undertook a comprehensive review of the current state of gender equality across the Olympic Movement. This led to the development of the 25 IOC Gender Equality Recommendations, which cover a wide range of focus areas, from the portrayal of female athletes in the media, to the levels of funding and support they receive to train and become better athletes. We’re also pushing forward female leadership, and trying to understand how we can better advocate women in executive and director roles across the entire Olympic Movement – including within the IOC.
Action-oriented steps towards change
The aim of the recommendations is not just to point out what we should be doing better, but to provide action-oriented steps so that IFs and NOCs will say: “Yes this is important”, and implement changes. We’re not just saying what you should do – we’re creating a roadmap, a timeline, resources and support to facilitate the success of this initiative.
In PyeongChang, you will see evidence of the progress already made on the field of play when equal numbers of women’s and men’s events take place on the final day of the Games. Later this year in Buenos Aires, the Youth Olympic Games will feature a 50 per cent balance between male and female athletes for the first time in Olympic history. By having visible female athletes at the Games, you create role models around the world through the lens of sport – but now, we need to take that philosophy and apply it to all the different aspects relating to women in sport.
There is a lot of work to be done, but the Gender Equality Review Project is a bold action that will provide leadership to the global sports movement for years to come, with athletes continuing to be at the heart of this exciting process.
In the Olympic spirit,