The International SAMBO Federation (FIAS) participated at the 7th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport from 17th to 20th May in Gaborone, Botswana. The IWG legacy presented in the frame work of local authorities and Botswana government was in three phases including a local legacy that aims to benefit the outgoing hosts immediate sport community, the Africa legacy that will ensure a functional and united Africa Women in Sport and finally a World legacy that will guide all parts of the world. The event gathers over 1300 participants from 85 countries.
Several side events were held, among which European initiatives where presented and discussed. One of them was the Council of Europe’s „Preventing and combating Child Sexual abuse in sport”.
The programme included plenary sessions with keynote addresses from high-level advocates of women and sport, parallel sessions with abstract presentations and cultural events.
On the first day, one of the highlights of the plenary session of theme 1, „Being well to Play Well” was the keynote address of Former President of Finland, Her Excellency Tarja Halonen, who emphasised the importance of health and physical activity and that every human being must have a human right to do sport. She stressed that we have to support gender equality structures, as well as availability of resources and policy strong frameworks. She highlighted the importance of having women in leadership roles, and to be prepared for getting scratches when breaking the glass ceiling.
On day two, a highly interesting panel discussion on theme 2, „Let them Lead” focused on changing the leadership landscape of sports. There, Antoaneta Angelova-Krasteva, Director for Innovation, International Cooperation & Sport at DG EAC of the European Commission held a speech on the role of governmental organisations in promotion and facilitation, and not the creation of rules. As she pointed out, this is the autonomy of sport. When talking about the importance of women in policy-making positions, she stated that “female underrepresentation is a clear waste of human capacity and competence”. She concluded by saying that the European Commission have a soft policy role, and to give policy support by a funding source, the Erasmus+ Programme.
On the third day of the conference, the plenary session on theme 4, „Welcome and Empower All through Sport” started with Birgitta Kervinen keynote address. She talked about the long journey for equality in sport, and that we not yet have arrived at our destination. She emphasised that the work shall continue with concrete actions. It needs courage to make it happen, and great leaders to lead us. She highlighted mentoring as a tool to empower all and that the work for equality is not a women’s issue.
On the concluding day of the conference the plenary session on theme 6 was about „Safe Space, protecting women in sport”. Andrew Parsons, President of the International Paralympic Committee gave a keynote address, that was followed by an inspiring panel where the panelists presented different views on the theme. Kari Fasting, a well-known researcher from Norway, previous member of EWS, presented results from new studies that show that the culture of youth sport is a risk factor, and that psychological harassment from fellow athletes is much more common than from coaches.
The panel discussion concluded that the following challenges need to be addressed: awareness-raising, policies, underreporting, and monitoring and evaluation.
The event concluded by the Closing Ceremony where its legacy – „The Botswana Big 5”. The key elements of the legacy are:
- Research to Practice
The conference also handed the baton over to the New Zealand who now take over the IWG Chair and Secretariat for four years. The 8th IWG World Conference will be held in Auckland 2022.