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The World Struggles for Accountability in Sport Gender Equality: Part Two

In part one of this two-part series, we explored the current emphasis on accountability in women’s sport equality globally. I and numerous others have contributed to the planning and strategy that will precede a high-level government meeting sponsored by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organizations (UNESCO) this summer in Kazan, Russia. Here in part two, we will go into more detail about what work the Women’s Sports Foundation (WSF), and partners WomenSport International (WSI) and International Working Group (IWG), are doing to put accountability on the table for the international community, including the major players of sport.

It is difficult to over-estimate the importance of MINEPS VI, a new guidance being put forth to further address diversity and inclusion in sport, in terms of finally enforcing accountability globally for the equity promises made through decades in documents, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Beijing Platform for Action, Brighton Plus Helsinki Declaration, Convention on the Rights of Person with Disability and others. As a reminder, MINEPS stands for Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sports, the group that meets to discuss good governance and practice regarding the organization of PE and sport globally. The MINEPS VI meeting is scheduled to occur this summer in Kazan, Russia.

Recently, the expert group focused on developing a comprehensive vision of inclusive access for all began work at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. I was a representative of IWG and WSF and, along with WSI and the International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW), we put the following recommendations on the table for the Ministers in Kazan:

Gender Equity Proposal for Action
Prepared by WSI, IWG, and IAPESGW

All member states will actively promote and achieve gender equity in sport consistent with  the principles of the UN Charter for human rights and the UNESCO Charter for physical education, physical activity, and sport and other relevant international documents (CEDAW) emphasizing sport as an inalienable human right.

To achieve gender equity in sport, member states shall…

  • Establish and support sports structures that promote equity, inclusion, and safety for girls and women in sport, physical education, and physical activity including representation at all levels of such structures
  • Monitor and evaluate progress on SDG 5 to advance gender equality and empower all women and girls, especially through presently existing protocols such as CEDAW Country Reports
  • Develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate gender mainstreamed action plans, and other appropriate transformation policies to eliminate the practice of all forms of discrimination and of gender-based violence against girls and women (with and without disabilities) in sport, physical education, and physical activity
  • Use systematically planned and implemented research to improve the environment for girls and women in sport, physical education, and physical activity
  • Develop designated national budget lines for girls and women in sport reaching all age/ability categories (school, recreation, differently-abled, elite)
  • Develop and promote gender mainstreamed communications and awareness building to ensure that women have opportunities to network, advocate, advance, and be recognized
  • Build awareness and encourage dialogue on sport and gender
  • Implement sustainable sport and recreation programs that will contribute to increase in participation of girls and women at all levels and require public periodic evaluations of effectiveness, which results will be publishable on a score card system
  • Establish gender units/desk offices staffed by people at decision making levels within Sports Ministries/Departments of Sport, National Sports Councils/Commissions, National Olympic Committees and National Paralympic Committees
  • Implement a minimum 40% women representation in leadership positions of Government Ministries/Departments of Sport, National Sports Associations/Federations, National Sports Councils/Commissions, National Olympic Committees and National Paralympic Committees as well as women in teaching/coaching positions in
  • Ensure representation of men and women in all sport events and activities within the member state and in international

We cannot know with certainty what specific monitoring and evaluation steps will be adopted in Kazan, but we will continue to advocate through all means at our disposal. Because we, citizens of the United States, organize sport so differently the MINEPS VI agreements will impact us indirectly; however, an impact will be felt.

For one thing, we know the Olympic Movement is a completely interactive system. The national sport and education Ministries will begin change in their countries. This will, in turn, act on all the National Governing Bodies and National Olympic Committees. The influence will spread to the International Federations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), or it is possible that these groups may respond as soon as the MINEPS VI reports are made official. We know that the United Nations connections are important to the IOC so they will do what they can to speed up implementation.

If we are strong and vigilant, we CAN achieve gender equity both here in the United States and globally.