Five action points for more gender equality in world sport

Photo: Monirul Bhuiyan/Press Photo

Botswana Minister of Health Dorcas Makgatho speaking at the Closing cerenomy of the 7th IWG World Conference on Women and sport. Photo: Monirul Bhuiyan/Press Photo


By Stine Alvad
The International Working Group on Women and Sport concluded its 7th world conference by announcing “The Big 5”: five major action points for gender mainstreaming in international sport.

More than 1000 participants from 85 countries were gathered in Gaborone, Botswana from 17-20 May to discuss issues on women and sport during the 7th International Working Group on Women and sport conference.

Like at previous editions of the conferences, a legacy was presented at the closing ceremony. The legacy marks the priorities chosen for the next four-year period of the group’s work. This year’s legacy, dubbed ‘The Big 5’, drew inspiration from one of the host country’s biggest tourist attractions: the wild animal life. ‘The Big 5’ is a set of five strategic actions, each with an animal as a symbol, that the group sees as necessary focus points to take the work on women and sports forward.

“We are at a crossroads in the history of women’s fight for equality. The 7th IWG World Conference has given voice to the need for sport to continue to contribute to the empowerment of girls and women around the world. We share a vision of gender equality and safe sport opportunities for girls and boys, women and men – to participate, to lead and to govern,” said IWG Secretary general and head of the Secretariat, Game Mothibi, presenting the Botswana Legacy.

“Implementation of these actions can improve access to sports for women of all identities, cultures, backgrounds and experiences, improving their individual lives and the inclusiveness of their communities.”

The action points are:

  1. Media (rhino): Cooperate with the media and use social media to both increase coverage of women’s sports and to portray women without using limiting stereotypes.
  2. Accountability (lion): Increase transparency regarding allocation of resources for women’s and men’s sports in order to ensure accountability and equality.
  3. Representation (leopard): Insist on equitable sport leadership roles for women at all levels in governing bodies, as coaches and in administrative and decision-making positions. Persistently pursue women’s sports participation and create targets for representation.
  4. Research to practice (buffalo): Build evidence-based policies and practices that drive equality, safety, violence-free environments and integrity in sport, including an emphasis on women’s rights to control their own bodies.
  5. Communication (elephant): Build on the current IWG digital platform to serve as a hub for women’s sports news, research, best practices and organisational progress while strategically pursuing additional signatories for the Brighton Plus Helsinki Declaration.

Change requires action
In a speech to the conference delegates, Botswana’s Minister of Health, Dorcas Makgato, expressed pride in having hosted a successful conference, but also underlined that action and involvement is key for change.

“For us to be part of this future, what is our level of activism? It can’t just be coming to a conference, putting your badge on and having the souvenirs. It has to go beyond that. It has to be impactful. It has to be measurable. I want to be part of that change,” Makgato said.

A part from the general strategic points, the Botswana patronage also listed a number of legacies achieved nationally and regionally in Africa, including policy awareness, training and an Africa Women Sport Conference in 2016 that led to the resuscitation of the African Women in Sport Association (AWISA).

The IWG secretariat will now be passed on to New Zealand who will host the 8th IWG World Conference on Women and sport in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2022.

More information

Find more information about the IWG here: website.

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