Role models and change-makers to be celebrated in Lausanne
The 17th edition of the IOC Women and Sport Awards ceremony will be held on 7 November at the SwissTech Convention Centre in Lausanne, Switzerland. Introduced in 2000, these awards recognise the outstanding achievements and contributions of those who work tirelessly to promote gender equality in sport.
“One of the key missions of the IOC is to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels based on the principle of gender equality. This is anchored in the Olympic Charter, and the IOC is proud to play a leading role in addressing the inequalities that still exist in our society and the ways in which we can all make a difference.” – Thomas Bach, IOC President
Six trophies, one goal
Each year, the IOC invites every NOC, IF and Continental Association to nominate a person or association whose efforts in this area deserve to be celebrated. An IOC jury composed of members of the IOC Women in Sport Commission then reviews the nominations and chooses six winners – a World Trophy and five Continental Trophy winners – who are supported with a grant to help them continue and extend their work.
The awardees’ work has made a huge difference for women and girls involved in sport on local, national and global levels. It has helped develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls in sport not only as athletes, but also as coaches, administrators, leaders and as members of the media.
Last year, the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) made history when it became the first National Olympic Committee (NOC) to be named World Winner.
The IOC jury acknowledged its long-standing efforts promoting women in sport, which have resulted in strong female representation on its Board, within its senior management and on its Olympic teams.
Gender equality on and off the field of play
The recent Olympic Games Rio 2016 saw more women compete at the Games than ever before, representing a record 45 per cent of athletes.
“But parity at the Olympic Games is not enough,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “We also need more women in leadership positions.”
“An increased representation is vital to the success of the Olympic Movement, and the IOC will continue to put more resources into training and other programmes to help further prepare women to take up leadership positions in the future,” he added.
Since 1995, the IOC Women in Sport Commission has fostered gender equality and the strengthening of women’s participation in, and through, sport. The Commission’s efforts have helped to steadily increase women’s participation in the world of Olympic sport and raise awareness about gender equality in sport worldwide.
“In some ways, women athletes have helped society to make the argument for equality,” explained Commission Chair Lydia Nsekera.
“Through their experience and performance, they have been able to challenge the arguments of gender inequality, and yet disparity still exists – particularly within leadership positions. Women should feel empowered enough to take the step into sports leadership, and I would urge all of them to consider this once their sporting careers are over. Further change will only happen if every woman and man, Olympians and leaders, make a commitment to stand up and lead this fight,” she said.
In addition to recognising the work being done across the world and initiating dialogue leading to new strategies and commitments, the IOC regularly organises regional seminars and workshops throughout the five continents.
These seminars aim to give greater visibility to women and sport issues and to encourage the NOCs, Continental Associations, IFs and National Federations to step up their work in this area.
The IOC has also developed educational and training programmes targeting women at mid- and senior-level positions in NOCs, IFs and NFs, which aim to increase female representation at the highest ranks of the Olympic Movement, and will soon be launching a gender-equality e-platform to assist organisations in their work to provide equal opportunities for men and women.
“One Win Leads to Another”
The strong collaboration between the IOC and the UN has also played a central role in spreading the acceptance of sport as a means to promote internationally agreed development goals.
One of the sustainable development goals (SDG5) established by Agenda 2030 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The IOC has established its first joint project with UN Women, which was launched in Rio de Janeiro in the lead-up to this year’s Olympic Games.
“One Win Leads to Another” is a community-based sports programme that aims to build the leadership skills of adolescent girls through quality sports programmes.
The programme, which also forms part of the Rio 2016 legacy, gives teenage girls living in socially vulnerable situations the opportunity to go to one of the 16 participating Olympic Villas to practise sport and to attend a gender workshop that uses sport as a tool to reduce gender inequalities and build and maintain confidence.
Since the pilot project was successfully implemented across the state of Rio de Janeiro, it will now be expanded to other states and cities in Brazil, in the hope that it will serve as a model that can be rolled out internationally.