A two-day gender leadership meeting, hosted by the Bahrain Athletics Association for the IAAF, culminated on Wednesday (25) in a unanimous view that actions speak louder than words when it comes to building a diverse and equitable international athletics federation.
“Being able to reflect off the field of play what is widely heralded as one of the most diverse and culturally attuned sport on the field of play is critical to remaining relevant to all fans but affirmative action is the only way we will shift the dial,” said IAAF President Sebastian Coe.
“We have parity in pay, parity in play but not parity in positions,” added Coe. “I believe if you want cultural change it will only be achieved if it is properly accounted for in the business model and this is what we have focused on over the past two days.”
Chaired by IAAF Council Member and former US champion hurdler Stephanie Hightower, the working group agreed that encouraging male advocacy, using the power of voice at all levels of the sport, identifying bias and selecting process changes is what is needed to ensure the gender leadership targets set during last year’s reform process are met.
“The sport, through the 214 Member Federations, has agreed gender targets at the governing level of the sport*. The task of this working group is to identify ways in which we can empower the Member Federations to feed into these goals. They know the people in the sport at a grass roots level and need to look at the barriers and opportunities – both economic and social – to women entering all levels of the sport from coaching to officiating and administration. Only then will we have the strong and committed pipeline that represents the sport globally and can filter both the quality and quantity of women ultimately into the top positions.”
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, said: “We are delighted to be hosting this important Gender Leadership Workshop for the sport of athletics. Young people need role models and the Kingdom continues to work hard to deliver opportunities for Bahrain’s youth, particularly through school sports, working with young women to support and develop the next generation of leaders in sport.”
The Gender Leadership Working Group will be taking proposals to the IAAF Council in November for approval and work will begin immediately afterwards to ensure that the 2019 Constitutional goals are met.
Gender Leadership Working Group members:
Stephanie Hightower, (USA) (Council Member) – Chairperson
Sebastian Coe, IAAF President
Annette Purvis (NZL) (Women’s Committee)
Kelly Sotherton (GBR) (Women’s Committee)
Ximena Restrepo (CHI)
May El Khalil (LBN)
Beatrice Ayikoru (UGA)
Nuala Walsh (IRL)
Evelyn Lopez (PUR)
Ruqaya Mansoor Alghasara (BRN)