Five months on from the election of the first female World Athletics Vice President, opportunities for women at all levels of the sport continue to grow.
The Gender Leadership Programme undertaken by World Athletics has helped women from around the world prepare for leadership roles within national, area and global federations, creating an equal playing field at the decision-making levels of the sport.
At the World Athletics Gender Leadership Moderators Seminar in Monaco last November, attendants were trained to become moderators who could then go back to their areas and nations and run Gender Leadership Seminars, which have since begun and will continue.
To date, seminars have been held in Monaco, Dakar, Cairo, Nairobi, Jakarta, Lima and Belgrade.
The dates of future seminars include:
1-3 May - Panama
11-13 May - Tonga
6-8 June - Northern Mariana Islands
13-15 October - Gold Coast
There are also plans for seminars in Beijing, Jakarta, Dakar, NACAC, Europe, but the dates have not yet been confirmed.
Testimonies from attendants of the Gender Leadership Programme give an indication of how the sport is already benefitting from the initiative.
Donna Fraser – UK
“The World Athletics Gender Leadership Programme in Monaco last year highlighted that no matter where in the world you are, the same issues around gender equality are the same. Understanding the challenges we all experience as a women and knowing that we now have a unique support network from all corners of the world to make a difference in our own communities is so powerful. We are generation equality.”
Estefania Senestrari Herrera – Argentina
“The journey to gender equity begins with quotas in our associations, national federations and areas, supported by more women available to be role models to the younger generation.”
Ella Salmela – Finland
“By attending the European Athletics Leadership Seminar, I found a new confidence and belief in myself to achieve my goals. I have now applied for, and been accepted on, a Global Executive MBA course which will allow me to develop even further and put me in a stronger position to add value to European Athletics.”
Siti Adia Tawang – Brunei
“World Athletics is a leader in the field of gender leadership. They are investing and developing a group of powerful women who will spread key messages to enable the growth of gender equity.”
Maria Wophill – Nigeria
“With the vigorous efforts of the World Athletics Gender Leadership task force that came up with the effective pathways and programmes to support progression of female leaders in the future, this gender leadership seminar paved way for a successful implementation of our goals and achievement.”
Lilly-Ann O’Hora – Ireland
“I have launched the first session of our ‘Forerunners- Female Leadership Programme’ to all club coaches, athletes and administrators. The programme will equip women with the skills to strengthen athletics in their clubs and communities, but also empower them to take on more leadership roles within club and county boards and our federation. All 27 of the women on the programme have been extremely eager to learn and develop their own journey.”
Soha Marzouk – Lebanon
“It is a privilege to be in a position where we can develop and influence other extremely capable women, particularly those who are part of different cultures and societies. Whatever their background, they need support. We need to listen to their experiences, the problems they faced and the ways they have managed to overcome them, and learn from their accomplishments and challenges. Doing this will encourage women to become stronger leaders.”
Jenny Meadows – UK
“After a 28-year career as an athlete, I was keen to remain involved in the sport of athletics. During my time at the European Athletics Women’s Leadership Moderator Seminar in Belgrade, I got to meet 21 other amazing women from all over Europe who each have the knowledge, experience and skills to create and inspire change in their countries and beyond. I feel very strongly that I now know how to achieve my goals, I am developing myself in so many areas and making a difference to projects that I care about.”
Chiara Elisabetta Franzetti – Italy
“Being a part of the European Gender Leadership Seminar gave me the courage and the tools to look at different ways in which I could make a difference. I am working on a new project related to cancer prevention. I am doing all I can to try to find a way to have this project of mine realised.”
Noelia Caicedo – Ecuador
“I would like to see a global campaign to raise the profile of women’s sport. After all, if you don’t watch women’s sport, you are missing half the show.”