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IOC and UN Women launch new Gender Equality Through Sport initiative in New York

International Olympic Committee

10 Mar 2023 – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and UN Women have launched the Gender Equality Through Sport Bridging Project, a new joint initiative that will use sport as a tool to advance gender equality and prevent gender-based violence. The project was announced during an event co-hosted by the IOC on the side-lines of the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is currently taking place at the UN headquarters in New York, USA.

Launching the initiative, Lydia Nsekera, IOC Member and Chair of the Gender Equality and Diversity Commission, said: “The project aims to support sport and community development organisations, as well as policymakers, across three continents, to address the important issues of gender equality and gender-based violence through sport-based programmes.”

Building on the success of the flagship programme in Brazil and Argentina

The Gender Equality Through Sport Bridging Project builds on the IOC’s longstanding partnership with UN Women, from which the One Win Leads to Another (OWLA) programme was created.

This flagship programme, which uses sport as a tool to prevent violence against girls and women in Brazil and Argentina, was established as a legacy programme from the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and was replicated in Argentina as a legacy of the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018.

As part of the Gender Equality Through Sport Bridging Project, the IOC and UN Women will launch a year-long transfer-of-knowledge programme, ensuring the exchange of information and insights generated through OWLA in Latin America with South-East Asia and the Pacific.

The project will be guided by the IOC’s Olympism365 strategy, which has been expressly designed to strengthen the role of sport as an important enabler for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The role of sport in advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment

Held in collaboration with UN Women and the Permanent Mission of Monaco to the UN, as Co-chair of the Group of Friends of Sport for Development and Peace, the CSW side event titled “Sport for Generation Equality” on 10 March brought together around 300 leaders in gender equality and sport to explore innovative programme models and advocacy approaches to advance gender equality through sport.

With this year’s CSW theme focusing on how innovation and the digital world impact women and girls, participants were also given the chance to explore current strategies to address and respond to cyber-enabled gender-based violence inside and outside sport, and discuss the role that sport can play in raising awareness of, addressing and combatting cyber-enabled gender-based violence in society.

The IOC has been developing programmes and initiatives to safeguard athletes from harassment and abuse in sport since 2004 and is committed to further protecting the safety and well-being of athletes through its Olympic Agenda 2020+5 strategic roadmap. Prioritising safeguarding in sport is also a key part of the Olympism365 strategy, which aims to encourage collaborative partnerships and promote the value of safe, accessible and sustainable sports organisations.

Participants in the side event included experts in gender equality from around the world, including Ana Moser, a former volleyball player, Olympian and the first female Sports Minister of Brazil, as well as Ambassador Isabelle Picco and former UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. The Olympic Games Paris 2024, which next year will make history as the first fully gender-equal Olympic Games, were also represented at the event by Iris Bazin, Manager of Inclusion, Solidarity & Equality at Paris 2024.

Sport for Generation Equality Framework

In addition to offering a platform to exchange best practices, address emerging challenges, and reflect on policy approaches, the event also provided an opportunity to encourage governments, UN organisations, sport for development and peace organisations, and all those working within the sports movement to sign up to the Sports for Generation Equality Framework.

Launched by UN Women and the IOC in 2020, this multi-stakeholder coalition aims to accelerate progress in making gender equality a reality within and through sport through a set of common principles and aligned objectives.

Addressing attendees, Sarah Hendrick, UN Women Director of Policy, Programme and Intergovernmental Division, underlined: “The future needs a meaningful intergenerational engagement with all races, genders, and people of different abilities, so that everywhere in the world, a 10-year-old girl in 2023 will be a thriving young woman in 2030,” she said.

“For millions of girls around the world, they can benefit enormously from sport – and become the generation that knows no divisions or gender-based discrimination. But they need support. I see no other field as powerful as sport to influence the next generation. “

As part of its leadership role, the IOC is supporting signatories in understanding and implementing the guiding principles of the initiative, which was born from the Global Generation Equality movement driven by UN Women.

Gender equality and the Olympic Movement

As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC is taking continuous action to advance gender equality.

To support the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, the IOC set itself Gender Equality and Inclusion Objectives for 2021-2024. These objectives span though the IOC’s three spheres of responsibility (the IOC as an organisation, the IOC as the owner of the Olympic Games, and the IOC as the leader of the Olympic Movement) across five focus areas: participation, leadership, safe sport, portrayal and resource allocation.

Achievements include increasing the percentage of female IOC Members from 21 per cent in 2013 to 40 per cent today, and ensuring there will be full gender parity in terms of the overall number of female and male athletes at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

The IOC is also working with its stakeholders to leverage the progress on the field of play to advance gender equality off it. This includes launching targeted initiatives to increase the number of women represented in key leadership roles, and supporting stakeholders in adopting gender-equal and inclusive portrayal practices.


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