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World Athletics Championships Oregon22

Press Release07 Mar 2021


World Athletics launches #WeGrowAthletics to take further strides towards greater gender equality in sport

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World Athletics Women's Week

To coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, World Athletics is delighted to announce the launch of #WeGrowAthletics, a campaign designed to build on the strides the sport has taken towards greater gender equality.

As part of the launch, World Athletics is making a number of pledges to commit to further advance the role of girls and women in athletics in three core areas of the sport – empowering women in leadership positions, breaking with traditions and shining a spotlight on women’s stories across its platforms.

This pledge has been the result of an internal review across World Athletics’ departments and work with key stakeholders and partners to identify areas in which more progress can be made. 

All digital platforms will feature a new version of World Athletics’ logo – inspired by the colours of the suffragette movement – for the week of 8-14 March and our feature content across all channels will celebrate the rich and inspiring stories of women in our sport, told and illustrated by women. There will also be a specially designed emoji running alongside the #WeGrowAthletics hashtag on Twitter.

The pledges have been brought together under three core pillars:

#WeGrowAthletics by empowering women to pursue leadership positions

In line with the 2016 Governance Structure Reform embedded in the sport’s constitution, World Athletics will continue its work to grow the number of women in leadership positions across the sport and remains committed to its Council being gender balanced by 2027. The first step towards this goal was taken at the 2019 elections where we appointed our first female Vice President, a voting female and male athlete on Council and increased female representation on Council to 30%. Much of the work towards this goal is being done through our areas, led by a Gender Leadership Taskforce.

#WeGrowAthletics by breaking with traditions

World Athletics pledges to review age-old traditions around the presentation of women’s performances and achievements to emphasise the importance of women’s competition. There is often an unconscious bias in traditions which, until properly explored, can go unchecked. We have a number of commitments around how we present women’s performance results, including ending our World Championships with a women’s event for the first time at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. We will continue to explore and review our traditions.

#WeGrowAthletics by ensuring a platform for women’s voices and tackling online abuse

World Athletics pledges to put greater emphasis on how and by whom women’s stories are told on its platforms together with making them a safer space for everyone and will continue to work with social media platforms to eliminate and remove sexist, racist and other inappropriate comments and posts in order to make these platforms inspirational places for women to share stories.

Commenting on the initiative, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “Gender equality should no longer be a theoretical discussion in any organisation. We should all be taking action by identifying barriers, reviewing our policies and practices and creating clear pathways for women to rise, contribute and participate at all levels. Athletics has historically led the way in gender equality since the beginning of the professional sport era in the 1980s with an equal programme of events and prize money for both women and men. We want the strides we have made in our sport, thanks in most part to trailblazing women on and off the field of play, to inspire others.”

He added that: “We have much more to do but I am confident these pledges, together with those of our partners and stakeholders, will allow more women to hurdle historically established barriers on the way to greater gender equality.”

World Athletics is proud of its partners and stakeholders, many of whom will be supporting this pledge now and into the future. Partners and stakeholders who will be making their own supporting pledges on International Women’s Day 2021 include Mondo, Fifty Digital, World Athletics Productions and the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. We would also like to thank Twitter for their support in creating a strong and striking emoji for this campaign and the continuing work we will do in this area.

A number of Area Associations are celebrating International Women’s Day including the NACAC (North America, Central América and Caribbean) region which is encouraging all their federations to participate in a one-mile walk or jog with those participating incorporating shades of purple in their attire. In South America they will be holding a Gender Leadership Conference for all their federations with keynote speeches from World Athletics Vice President Ximena Restrepo and Brazilian former athlete and Manager, Maria Magnolia Figueiredo. In addition, many of our 214 Member Federations are celebrating and supporting International Women’s Day with a variety of activities.

 

World Athletics’ pledges

#WeGrowAthletics by empowering women to pursue leadership positions

World Athletics pledges to increase the representation of women and work towards gender parity in leadership roles in athletics.

In line with the 2016 Governance Structure Reform and consistent with gender numbers participating in athletics, the gender split of the World Athletics Council will transition to 50% by the 2027 Election as follows:

  • At the 2019 Election, there must be a minimum of seven men and women elected from among the total of 26 Council members (including the 1 Vice President and 1 female and 1 male athlete representative). Following the 2019 Election, there are currently eight women on the World Athletics Council, making up 30%.
  • At the 2023 Election, there must be a minimum of 10 men and women elected from among the total of 26 Council members (including the 1 Vice President and 1 female and 1 male athlete representative, i.e. 40%)
  • At the 2027 Election, there must be 13 men and women on Council (including the 2 male and 2 female Vice Presidents, i.e. 50%)


World Athletics will ensure gender parity on panels for technical officials and across staff at World Athletics HQ, review pathways for women coaches and will work with the Gender Leadership Taskforce on ensuring our Area Associations play their part in growing leadership opportunities for women in their regions.

#WeGrowAthletics by breaking with traditions

World Athletics pledges to review age-old traditions around the presentation of women’s performances and achievements to emphasise the importance of women’s competition.

For decades it has been standard practice to end major World Athletics Series events on men’s disciplines, such as closing the World Championships with the men’s 4x400m relay, announce the winner of the Male World Athlete of the Year at the annual Awards last or to have men’s stats and rankings on the World Athletics website set as the default landing page.

World Athletics recognises the effect this practice – rooted in the sport’s beginnings – has in downplaying women’s performances and pledges to

  • review World Athletics Series event timetables to put greater focus on highlighting women’s disciplines. This will be reflected in the timetable for the World Athletics Championships Oregon22.
  • announce the winner of the Female World Athlete of the Year at the end of the 2021 World Athletics Awards and review the order for future shows.
  • switch all stats and rankings lists on worldathletics.org to default to women’s disciplines.

 

#WeGrowAthletics by ensuring a platform for women’s voices and tackling online abuse

World Athletics pledges to put greater emphasis on how and by whom women’s stories are told on its platforms together with making them a safer space for everyone.

While gender parity in content – together with equity across regions and disciplines – on World Athletics platforms has been a key editorial principle for a long time, World Athletics recognises the need for more women in producing global athletics coverage. Whether it is writers, commentators and editors or photographers, illustrators and other creatives, the content produced by women is still greatly outnumbered by that of their male counterparts.

In order to provide more and better platforms for women moving forward and to inspire the rest of the sports media landscape, World Athletics pledges to

  • increase content created by women on World Athletics platforms, starting with World Athletics Women’s Week (8-14 March) where every piece of feature content on World Athletics platforms will be produced by and have involved women.
  • create a clear anti-harassment policy for its channels to combat online abuse including but not limited to hate speech, bullying, sexism, racism and other misconduct.
  • work with stakeholders, such as LOCs to tie event venues and courses to more women-specific stories.

 

World Athletics’ partners' pledges

Mondo

Mondo pledges to

  • develop Women Leadership initiatives in the North American Region through our Coaching Associations and continue ongoing amplification of women in sports. 
  • encourage and support female athletes through our Mondo Cares storytelling initiative. 
  • continue our work with After School Programs to empower girls to pursue future professions related to sports. 

 

World Athletics Productions

World Athletics Productions pledges to implement a 50:50 gender split among both producers and directors as well as commentators and reporters on their team during the World Athletics Championships Oregon22. 

World Athletics Championships Oregon22

World Athletics Championships Oregon22 pledges to have a gender-balanced board of directors. 

Fifty Digital

Fifty Digital pledges to use its expertise and industry knowledge to empower and inspire women in sport to tell their stories across digital and social media. 

We pledge to run bi-annual workshops that will help women in the sports industry, both athletes and non-athletes alike, utilise digital and social media platforms to tell their stories in the most engaging way, increasing their storytelling opportunities and tackling online abuse. 

We will provide these for women within the wider sports industry, as well as individual female athletes. We will focus on five key areas: 

  • Professional and personal brand building 
  • Bespoke filters and templates to upgrade content and storytelling 
  • Content production tools and techniques 
  • Responding to fans and critics on social 
  • Engaging with World Athletics and other media  

 

World Athletics