World Athletics will take a significant number of new steps towards gender equity in our sport in 2023, including 40% female representation on the World Athletics Council.
These steps are outlined in a series of new and impactful pledges – published in celebration of International Women’s Day – which include implementing individual safeguarding policies in each of our 214 Member Federations, and the extension of our Ukraine Solidarity Fund – enabling dozens of female Ukrainian athletes to take part in World Athletics Series events.
Each of our new pledges, which are outlined in detail below, is designed to improve gender equity and close the gender gap in athletics as we enter the third year of our #WeGrowAthletics campaign.
Initially launched on International Women’s Day 2021 with the ambition of eliminating gender bias in athletics, this campaign has already made notable strides in fulfilling or initiating all of the pledges we have made in the last 24 months (report card here).
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “I am immensely proud that World Athletics is once again leading the way for gender equity in sport. It was an important part of the reforms we introduced in 2016. In today’s world, it is not enough to provide equal opportunity, we must provide equity. In order to achieve true equity in our sport, it is important that we offer our female athletes, administrators, and officials the tools and environment they need to be empowered to pursue careers at all levels of athletics – be it by setting quotas for female representation on our Council, or providing more flexible learning and development opportunities that better suit women’s commitments – we are absolutely dedicated to making our sport equitable and representative for all.
“I am also proud that, according to research conducted for us by Nielsen, 74% of our fans believe that World Athletics is truly committed to championing equality. We are happy to lead the way on gender equity initiatives and set the example for other International Federations. However, it is important that all of our stakeholders take an active role in helping us achieve our collective goals in this area. From our Member Federations to Local Organising Committees, to the media and photographers who cover our events, each of us plays a crucial part in achieving equity for women in athletics, sport, and every aspect of life. I invite everyone in our sport to do their part in standing up for gender equity whenever and wherever they see a need for improvement.”
For media use: Seb Coe video interview for International Women’s Day
This year, World Athletics is committing to the below list of pledges, each of which is the result of ongoing internal reviews across World Athletics’ departments, and are brought together under the following three core pillars:
#WeGrowAthletics by providing more opportunities in our sport to empower girls and women across the world. To achieve this, World Athletics pledges to:
- Increase the number of women on the World Athletics Council from eight members currently to a minimum of 10 members – including at least one female Vice President – at the Council elections in August 2023. Women will represent 40% of the World Athletics Council.
- Build a pipeline to increase to 50% the female representation across our four commissions for the 2023-2027 term, in order to provide more opportunities for female administrators with aspirations to run for our Council in 2027.
- Increase the number of female coaches at our World Championships to at least 20% by the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 2025 by encouraging Member Federations to send more female coaches, and providing the learning pathway in countries where women are underrepresented at the coaching level. To help us achieve this, our Gender Leadership Taskforce is working with the IOC Female Coaching Leadership Programme – WISH – to enable eligible female coaches to be selected as part of their national team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. A total of eight candidates from athletics have been selected for the programme.
- Align ourselves with the UN Women #DigitALL campaign and harness the power of digital technology to develop more online courses and exams. To this end, we have set a target of 40% female participation in World Athletics e-learning courses in 2023.
- Host another Gender Leadership Conference at our World Athletics Championships in Budapest this year.
- Organise 10 Gender Leadership courses and activities that will be carried out by the Area Development Centres.
- Host two Gender Leadership podcast series focusing on Technical Officials and empowerment.
- Launch a women-focused spotlight section on our LinkedIn page in 2023.
- Launch a pilot Mentoring Programme to help women attain leadership roles in all six continental areas.
- Work more closely with one-day meetings and road events to ensure equal opportunities in events and prize money.
- Member Federations pledge to implement a safeguarding policy by the end of the year to ensure our sport is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.
- Promote more, better, and fairer coverage of our female athletes by conducting and/or commissioning research across the entire media landscape – including a third online abuse study at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 – highlighting the difference between abuse directed at male and female targets in order to better protect our female athletes and take necessary action against those who target our athletes online.
- Commission articles, features and other content throughout the year highlighting the ground-breaking women in our sport. This will include developing a podcast series to tell stories of pioneering women and the challenges they face, including protection of female sport, motherhood, mental health, and safeguarding.
- Share stories of inspirational women in our Women in Athletics section by highlighting one story every day from March 8 2023 until March 7 2024 as a source of inspiration for girls and women in different roles everywhere. In line with the UN Women theme of #DigitALL, collate and highlight the inspirational stories we collected last year into one fully digital collection.
Last year, through the establishment of our Ukraine Solidarity Fund, we supported over 100 Ukrainian athletes – along with their immediate family members and entourage including coaches and technical officials – to train, qualify, and participate in World Athletics Series events. Female athletes made up 70% of athlete beneficiaries.
#WeGrowAthletics by standing in solidarity with our Ukrainian athletes:
- We pledge to repeat the World Athletics Ukraine Solidarity Fund to support Ukrainian athlete attendance at the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 and other World Athletics Series events.
Chair of the World Athletics Gender Leadership Taskforce Stephanie Hightower said: “I am so proud of the work that the Gender Leadership Taskforce has done since its establishment in 2017. From humble beginnings, we have been gaining momentum and making a significant impact on our sport ever since. I truly believe that we are setting the standard for other sports organisations when it comes to gender equity and ensuring sustainable leadership pathways for women. Each of our members has shown their unwavering commitment to this cause throughout, as has the World Athletics leadership under the presidency of Sebastian Coe.
“While much has been accomplished, there is still much to be done, and we look forward to achieving our plans for 2023 including hosting a number of gender leadership seminars and courses across the world, as well as the development of a mentoring programme for young women hoping to reach the highest echelons of our sport.”
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