by Dora Jeler, ITTF High Performance and Development Operations Manager
Ingmar de Vos, the President of the International Federation for Equestrian Sports commenced matters; he outlined the development of his federation from male dominated to gender neutral.
Notably, while the aim of gender neutrality may be setting the bar high, the focus of the Forum was the newly prepared Gender Equality Review Project, outlining 25 recommendations to international federations for achieving gender equality within their sports.
The project took a new approach to reaching this goal: it included critical internal evaluations, relied heavily on input from stakeholders (athletes, international federations, National Olympic Committees, academics and media) and finally resulted in the development of action-oriented recommendations with clear deadlines.
Importantly, the recommendations tackle issues within sport and competition, portrayal in the media, funding, governance and human resources. International federations are now challenged with starting to implement the clear guidelines towards gender equality.
Notably, the three sessions of the Forum showed successful strategies on how to tackle issues that may arise on the path towards gender equality. Areas covered were the electoral process of a body, the gender equal portrayal of athletes in the wider media and in an international federation’s own channels plus the meaningful inclusion of women in decision-making roles.
Gender equality is part of good governance – it is our responsibility to pass it onto our national federations. We must take bolder steps as we oversee the implementation of these recommendations.” Marisol Casado, President of the International Triathlon Union and member of the International Olympic Committee
Audience involvement showed that many women still face significant issues, be it closed doors or glass ceilings upon reaching a certain level. The panel discussions were inspiring and challenging, suggesting that implementing the recommendations would help break down barriers that are all too real for some but that ultimately women need to dare to aim for leadership positions and also seek out guidance and mentorship from men and women at the top.
In conclusion, the Forum was a fantastic leap towards action-based change on the path to true gender equality.