During the Women Leaders Global Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 28 November, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was presented with an award for promoting gender balance in sport, through several initiatives on and off the field of play.
Accepting the award on behalf of the IOC, Marisol Casado, IOC Member and Chair of the Gender Equality Review Project Working Group, as well as President of the International Triathlon Union, said: “The Award recognises the efforts of the IOC to forge a new path in advancing gender equality within the sporting arena and beyond. The introduction of the IOC Portrayal Guidelines for Gender Balanced Representation is just one example of the IOC taking concrete steps to address a recognised gender bias problem. Positive steps have been seen on the field too, with the Youth Olympic Games organised in Buenos Aires in October this year being the first fully gender-balanced Olympic event ever. I’m proud of the actions taken so far, thanks also to the significant contribution of the National Olympic Committees and International Federations, and look forward to implementing further recommendations as a part of the IOC Gender Equality Review Project.”
The Women Leaders Global Forum was co-hosted by Women Political Leaders (WPL), the Government and the Parliament of Iceland, which also selected the winners of the inaugural “Power, Together Awards”.
The IOC received the award alongside the African Women Leaders Network and the #Metoo Movement, for leading the way in promoting non-discrimination and greater participation by women in all areas of sport.
Fostering gender equality and encouraging women’s involvement in sport is a priority set by Olympic Agenda 2020, as is the achievement of 50 per cent female participation in the Olympic Games.
Over the last year, the IOC has picked up the pace in advancing gender equality not just at the Games but also throughout the Olympic Movement and beyond. In terms of athlete participation, not only was gender balance achieved at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018, but female athletes are also expected make up 50 per cent of the competitors at the YOG Lausanne 2020 and almost 49 per cent at Tokyo 2020, record numbers for the Olympic Games.
The “Power, Together Award” also recognised the importance of the Gender Equality Review Project as a key step towards enacting effective change and removing barriers that prevent women and girls from participating in sport at all levels. Launched in February 2018, it includes 25 gender equality recommendations across five key themes: governance, human resources, funding, sport and portrayal.
Meanwhile, off the field of play, the IOC has pushed for more progress in developing pipelines for professional development and equal access to many different kinds of sporting roles — from leadership and administration to coaching, from medical support to technical officials and more. The IOC has also put a sustained effort into balancing the ranks of its own leadership and membership: the number of women in its commissions increased to 42 per cent in 2018: this represents an increase of 16.8 per cent in female participation compared to 2017, and an improvement of 98 per cent since 2013.
To promote best practice in sport, in 2000 the IOC launched the Women and Sport Awards: each year, six trophies (one for each of the five continents and one at world level) are given to women, men or organisations that have made remarkable contributions to the development, encouragement and reinforcement of women’s participation in sport. The winners’ work is also supported with a grant to help them continue and extend their work.