by Daniela Gomes, ITTF Development and Education and Training Projects Officer
Women are still under represented in sport, both on and off the field of play, as athletes, coaches, umpires, leaders as well as with regards to media exposure.
Sport is a platform to promote gender equality! International Women´s Day is more than a one day celebration, it is an opportunity to act and address the areas in which women´s development can be promoted.
The key question is: can we create an environment where female athletes, coaches, umpires and leaders can access opportunities, perform, reach their potential and progress?
Pertinently, the International Table Tennis Federation has a clear policy to actively reduce disparities and promote equality between men and women; best practice is promoted continually. Additionally, there is a Women in Sport Commissioner plus myself, an ITTF staff member in charge of gender equity.
At competition level, 2016 witnessed similar numbers of male and female athletes in major competitions. At the Perfect World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, 46 per cent of the players were female, at the Sun International World Junior Championships it was 50 per cent.
Progress must be sustained; ITTF Development, Education and Training continue to build upon success.
In 2016, a total of 1,756 women took part overall in development programme courses, showcasing the ITTF gender mainstreaming strategy.
However, mainstreaming is not the only strategy to promote gender equality. An equally important and complementary strategy is to develop activities which specifically target women´s needs. Specific women´s courses are held annually in all ITTF continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania); two ITTF representatives per year attend the International Federation Women in Leadership forum.
Last year the ITTF was represented by women from Asia and Oceania, this year Europe and Latin America; thus the ITTF is looking to have continental parity and equality.
Furthermore, the soon to be released online ITTF Administration Course, powered by ITTF Developing National Associations (DNA) philosophy, will assist in promoting the principles of good governance and gender equality.