Harnessing power of sport for Generation Equality

UN Women

On 1 July 2021, leaders in the world of sport came together to make commitments to the Sport for Generation Equality Principles at the landmark Generation Equality Forum in Paris. The Principles embody the vision of equal rights and opportunities for women and girls everywhere that the Beijing Platform for Action laid out 26 years ago. The Beijing Platform asserts that sport has a critical capacity to propel women’s and girls’ empowerment. While there have been important advances, the full potential of sport as a driver for gender equality has yet to be harnessed.

Moderator Åsa Edlund Jönsson, Head of Sports at SVT, introduced the programme and noted the policy in her organization of 50/50 coverage for men’s and women’s sports, before handing the floor to UN Women Executive DirectorPhumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka set the tone, stating “Sport for Generation Equality recognizes the importance of sport in our lives, the importance of sport in girls’ lives, young women’s lives… So we welcome you, we embrace you, and we are here to target investments into women in sport, because Generation Equality is about making commitments. They can be investments in money, they could be programmes, they could be laws, they could be policies.”

Deputy Minister of Sportof the Government of France Roxana Mărăcineanu said, “We can no longer just accept announcements, we have to move over to actions. Young people have asked of us for change, and we must rise to their expectations.”

Sharing IOC’s commitment, Vice PresidentKirsty Coventry said, “We can all agree that the current crisis presents many challenges to sport and gender equality at large. This is now why, more than ever, we must ensure that resource allocation continues to support women and girls’ sports, and that we guarantee equal access and opportunities for girls and boys to play sports in a safe and inclusive environment.”

Seiko Hashimoto and Tony Estanguet, Presidents of the Organizing Committees of the upcoming Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games, stressed the importance of gender parity in the Olympic Games and their respective commitments to support women’s leadership, participation, and coverage.

UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences Gabriela Ramos announced the launch of the long-anticipated Global Observatory for Women and Sport, a commitment from the 2017 Kazan Action Plan. The Observatory will be an independent entity hosted in Switzerland to advance much needed research and data.

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, noted that FIFA invested USD 1 billion into women’s football for the 2019-2022 cycle to grow the women’s game; outlined efforts to use the power of football to prevent violence against women. Looking ahead to the Women’s World Cup in 2023, she explained that “we have the chance to use this tournament as a springboard to inspire women, girls and communities around the world and ultimately change the conversation on gender.”

Sponsors also made important commitments at the Forum. Procter and Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard highlighted the power of advertising, stating that P&G “will champion the accurate portrayal of female athletes, while raising their voices and highlighting the causes they champion, on and off the field.”. Adidas announced the expansion of its Breaking Barriers programme to create opportunities for 50,000 girls across Europe to benefit from sport, and to create an open platform for any organization to access its curriculum and tools.

Specific to the call in Paris, the Agence Française de Développement and the Japan International Cooperation Agency promised to mobilize the Sport for Development Coalition of Pubic Development Banks, in their roles as co-chairs of the initiative; the Alice Milliat Foundation committed to support more women as sport professionals, and to celebrate their achievements in sport through festivals, awards and competitions; and the International Federation for Sports Officials aims to increase opportunities for women to participate equally in this under-represented field.

Seventeen year-old Camilly Ferreira summed up how her participation in the UN Women/ IOC programme “One Win Leads to Another” in Brazil taught her how to overcome challenges, and learn many other life skills. “From the first sessions, I was able to have a very new perception of who I was and who I wanted to become.” Now she is sharing what she learned with younger girls and spreading the reach of the programme in her community.

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