It’s a win-win for the hundreds of men and women at the 8th IWG World Conference who say as fantastic as the presentations are, the chance to network with new and old friends is the icing on the cake.
For Raelene Castle, group chief executive of High Performance Sport New Zealand and Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa, the conference offers an incredibly exciting platform for Aotearoa.
“The vision to bring together the cricket, rugby, IWG World Conference and FIFA World Cup, has given us a two year platform, and that’s something not everyone gets,” says Ms Castle. “Events usually start and finish, but we can keep the conversation alive for two years and beyond.”
The conference was a proof point. “Unfortunately, many of our women suffer imposter syndrome, and this (conference) is a good reinforcement there are great women doing incredible work all over the world. We all need to stand up and own that.”
She was incredibly proud of how New Zealand was respected on the world stage – from leaders to academics, sportspeople and community leaders.
“We are not perfect but we are doing a lot right.”
The iwi partnership with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA) showed maturity and confidence. “It displays our bi-cultural journey to the world.”
At the end of each session, hundreds of women and men from 60 nations flood into the shared areas to network, share their stories, and chat about the workshop or session just attended.
Amongst them are a seven-strong delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who are keen to listen and learn.
Muditambi Ravele, the co-founder and chair of South Africa Women and Sport Foundation, has been to six previous IWG conferences. “I enjoy these because of the knowledge I gain,” she says. “Women in Sport in South Africa is so successful because of what we bring back from these gatherings. It has been working wonders for us.”
Etsuko Ogasawara, who is from the Japanese Center for Research on Women in Sport (JCRWS), has brought four university post grad students with her. “It is all about meeting people and sharing information. This is a chance for us to the get very latest.”
Tomorrow there are a raft of interactive workshops and feature speakers Kereyn Smith, Annamarie Phelps, Muditambi and Payoshini Mitra presenting on raising the global game – gender equality for women and girls in sport.
The 8th IWG World Conference is the largest in the organisation’s 30-year history and the biggest sports conference ever to be staged in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Over the four days, there will be more than 220 sessions delivered by nearly 500 international presenters. It is the world’s largest network dedicated to advancing sport by empowering women and girls.