As we celebrate International Women’s Day, the ITTF Group reinforces its commitment to empowering women in all their diversity and promoting a gender-equal sport every day of the year. Whether it’s staff, athletes, sports leaders or elected officials, gender equal participation in table tennis is the basis for a sustainable future for our sport. Through the ITTF, the ITTF Foundation, and World Table Tennis, significant strides have been made to make table tennis more inclusive and diverse, but more needs to be done within all entities.
The ITTF and its Development Programmes provide a range of support to Member Associations and Continental Federations to help increase participation in the sport, particularly among women and girls. In 2022, the ITTF Development Programmes provided support to 4,136 women and girls to make the sport more equal, with female participants making up 45% of total figures. This achievement shows that the ITTF Development Programmes are effective in encouraging more women and girls to participate in the sport and to help bridge the gender gap in table tennis. The “My Gender. My Strength.” programme especially can be credited with giving impetus for increased female participation numbers. The programme not only supports standalone projects around women’s development but also emphasises legacy by ensuring selected projects will make a positive difference in this area in the long run.
The ITTF Foundation is also working tirelessly towards gender equality in table tennis. The Foundation’s programmes uses table tennis as an inclusive tool for development and peace, connecting and empowering people all over the world. In 2022, the ITTF Foundation positively impacted the lives of 3,369 women and girls through its programmes, with female participants making up 48% and female leaders making up 33% of total figures.
World Table Tennis has also played a significant role in promoting gender equality in table tennis. In 2022, fans were wowed by the performances of 1,429 women and girl players across WTT events, who received equal prize money, a system already implemented by the ITTF in 2008 and a significant milestone for the sport, highlighting the importance of gender equality in table tennis.
But ITTF’s commitment to promoting gender equality in table tennis extends beyond the sport itself. In early 2023, the ITTF held a Gender and Diversity (GEDI) meeting in Durban, South Africa. At this meeting, ITTF officials discussed the importance of gender and diversity within the organisation. Leading the meeting were ITTF President Petra Sörling, ITTF Executive Vice President Wahid Oshodi, and the Gender & Diversity Commissioner of the ITTF, Hajera Kajee.
The purpose of the GEDI plan is to guide future actions and ensure that the gender and diversity targets comply within the organisation. The plan will be adopted by the Executive Board soon after International Women’s Day, demonstrating the organisation’s continued commitment to achieving gender equality in table tennis, not least in terms of participation. To kick-start the plan, a baseline survey will be sent out to all Member Associations and Continental Federations worldwide, gathering crucial feedback on gender and diversity within the sport and the organisation.
Through these efforts, the ITTF Group is taking concrete steps and affirming that every individual is welcome and valued in the world of table tennis. By setting an example for other organisations and individuals to follow, the ITTF is demonstrating that every individual has a role to play in creating a more gender-equal and diverse world.