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Sport is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls. As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC has an important responsibility to take action when it comes to gender equality – a basic human right of profound importance and a Fundamental Principle of the Olympic Charter.

Great progress has been made in promoting gender equality in terms of balancing the total number of athletes participating at the Games, offering leadership development, advocacy and awareness campaigns, and more recently appointing more women to leadership roles within the administration and governance.

Many Olympic Movement stakeholders have also implemented significant gender equality initiatives so that girls and women around the world are being given greater access and the opportunity to participate in sport. However, there are still many challenges to be addressed.

Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the Olympic Movement, reaffirmed the commitment and priority of gender balance, and the IOC Gender Equality Review Project with its 25 recommendations launched in March 2018 is a tangible outcome of this commitment. With an emphasis on taking action, the aim of the Project is to provide a solutions-based approach to achieving gender equality on and off the field of play, sooner, rather than later.

2018 IOC Women and Sport Trophy

IOC Gender Equality Review Project

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Portrayal guidelines for gender balanced representation

Sports is one of the most powerful platforms for promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls, and sports coverage is very influential in shaping norms and stereotypes of women/girls and men/boys. The IOC has developed Guidelines to raise awareness of what constitutes gender bias in the area of portrayal (i.e. how women and men are presented and described). They provide examples and good practice within the sporting context of how this bias can be overcome – notably in the areas of print, digital and broadcast – to achieve gender neutral language and equal representation. They are a direct result of Recommendation 12 of the 2018 IOC Gender Equality Review Project.

Women playing Rugby


As a product of its era, the IOC initially had little interest in women’s participation in sport. Times have changed and the IOC has played an important role in establishing a positive trend to enhance women’s participation. This section offers a brief background of women’s participation in Olympic sport and leadership.

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One of the IOC’s priorities, through the Women in Sport Commission, is to actively advocate equality between men and women. The objective consists of raising awareness of the need to ensure equality between men and women as well as to empower women in sport.

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One of the roles of the IOC is to provide tools and funding to help the Olympic Movement achieve its gender-equality goals. This section gives an overview of the IOC support activities for gender equality.

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