The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, will speak at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th International Working Group (IWG) World Conference on Women and Sport, taking place in Helsinki, Finland, from 12 to 15 June 2014. The event is officially supported by the IOC and held under the motto “Lead the Change, Be the Change”.
Other IOC representatives to feature in the programme include IOC Executive Board members and Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Claudia Bokel. De Frantz led the IOC’s Women and Sport Commission for many years, and Bokel is Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. Finnish IOC member and five-time Olympian Peter Tallberg, as well as the President of the International Paralympic Committee and IOC member, Sir Philip Craven, will also give an address at the Opening Ceremony.
Milestones in women’s and girls’ empowerment in sport
In the run-up to the Helsinki summit, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “Women’s participation in sport and sports administration is a key priority for the IOC. A great deal has been achieved on and off the field of play in recent years – all sports at the Olympic Games are now open to women, for example, and every National Olympic Committee has now sent female athletes to the Games – but we all know that change in this area does not come easily.”
During the last two decades, the IOC has worked continuously to promote women in, and through, sport at all levels which has shown tangible results, for instance: from 23 per cent of the athletes at the 1984 Los Angeles Games being women to more than 44 per cent in London 2012; and from two IOC female members in 1981 to 24 in 2014. In 1991, the IOC decided that any new sport on the Olympic programme must include both men’s and women’s events. On the educational front, the IOC has developed educational tools to help promote safe sporting environments. In addition, efforts to recruit more women into leadership positions have been and remain a priority.
Advocating for women in sport
The IOC was one of the first organisations to sign the 1994 Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport, following the first IWG World Conference, which called on governments, civil society, businesses, academia, research institutions and sports organisations to advocate for gender parity. Since then, over 400 entities have endorsed the Declaration, including a number of National Olympic Committees and International Sports Federations.
Read the IOC Factsheet “Women in the Olympic Movement”.
Granted United Nations (UN) Observer status in 2009, and with a historic agreement signed a few weeks ago, the IOC is working with the UN in areas including gender equality and the empowerment of women, young people, peace-building, health, education, environmental sustainability and combating HIV/AIDS.
Advocacy initiatives for gender equality in the Olympic Movement include the yearly IOC Women and Sport Awards, which recognise a woman, man or organisation that has worked to develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls in physical activity, in coaching or in administrative and decision-making structures.