2018 – From Helsinki to Gaborone Progress Report

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Women and Sport
From Helsinki to Gaborone


This report continues a commitment of the IWG, since its inception in 1994, to produce a report of recorded progress for women and sport every four years and to construct a legacy. In 2014, the IWG Secretariat moved to Gaborone, Botswana. The report contains the results from a study of the signatories of the Declarations, covering the global progress made within the women and sport movement since the cut-off point for data collection for the previous Progress Report (2013), throughout the period of the Botswanan Secretariat until 2018. The study was based around the principles of the Brighton Plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration. Data was gathered by the use of SurveyXact – an online tool for administration of questionnaires, and case studies collected through Skype interviews and e-mail correspondence. The material was provided by 158 organisations, which gives an overall response rate of 37%. The largest group came from Europe, and the National Federations/Associations were the largest organisational type represented in the study.

For most of the questions, the participating organisations were asked if they had taken any actions in a particular area and, if so, a follow-up question was provided in which they were asked to describe, or select from a list, the actions they had taken. More than 50% of the organisations provided a positive answer to 16 of the 18 areas investigated in this way. This indicates a high degree of activity with respect to improving the situation for girls and women in physical activity and sport. Almost all organisations (91%) have taken action to increase the number of active girls and women in sport and/or physical activity. The next highest number of actions are: increase the representation of women in leadership and decisionmaking positions (81%) and increasing the number of girls and women who are coaches/instructors (77%).

The areas where fewest actions have been taken are: improving how girls and women in sports and/or physical activity are portrayed in the media (51%): child-care provision (36%) and protecting female athletes from developing eating disorders (34%). The organisations that have been most active with respect to working for gender equality are varied. It is a mix of national sport organisations, international sport federations, NOCs and women and sport organisations, from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Altogether five organisations have been active in all areas that we measured. These are: Lesotho Cricket Association; Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA); Singapore Sports Council; Cricket Namibia and Federation of International Touch (FIT).

If we look at the results from the progress report in 2014 and the results presented in this report, we can conclude that in most areas there seems to have been progress with respect to actions taken. However, slightly fewer of the organisations seem to have taken action to prevent eating disorders than in the period 2006-2014. The number of actions taken with respect to ‘Research’ were about the same as four years ago. We conclude that significant actions among the signatory organisations have taken place during and since the Finnish and Botswanan IWG Secretariats. What is needed, however, is much more monitoring and evaluating research, in order to measure the impact of these actions.

The recommendations from the IWG Conference in Helsinki in 2014 had a strong focus on research, gender equality, and gender mainstreaming. We were surprised that only 77 (49%) organisations revealed that they had Executive Summary The IWG was established at the first world conference on women and sport in Brighton, UK, which was hosted by the former British Sports Council. The legacy of this conference was an International Strategy which included the establishment of the IWG and the Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport. In 2014 the Brighton Declaration was revised and updated to the Brighton Plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration on Women and Sport. The new Declaration maintains the same principles as the original Brighton Declaration but it was reworded to be explicitly inclusive of all forms of physical activity as an essential extension of organised sport. The number of signatories has increased every year and by March 1st 2018, the Declarations had amassed 563 signatories. IWG Progress Report 2013-2018 | 5 developed gender mainstreaming strategies and that only 92 (58%) had developed a policy and/or action plan for gender equality. We will therefore strongly repeat the recommendation from Helsinki with respect to gender mainstreaming. This should be included in a gender policy and action plan.

The action plan could contribute to addressing the inequalities identified by the organisations in this report. Some of the most important areas to emerge from this study are: actions taken to increase women in decision making positions, the prevention of gender-based violence, increasing the coverage and improving the portrayal of women in sports in the media.

Finally, we recommend that different forms of research on girls and women in sport are established, aiming in particular at understanding the impact and consequences of the different initiatives that are taken to improve the situation for girls and women in sports. All policy on gender should be evidence based.

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