The Commonwealth Games in Birmingham provided the ideal backdrop for the official handover ceremony for the Secretariat of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sport.
Photo (l-r): Ta Derek Lardelli, NZ Team Kaumatua and his team with Pauline Harrison (Chair, 8th IWG World Conference Steering Committee), Rachel Froggatt (IWG NZ Secretary General), Annamarie Phelps CBE OLY (IWG UK Co-Chair), Raewyn Lovett ONZM (IWG NZ Co-Chair), the Hon Grant Robertson (NZ Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Sport & Recreation), Lisa O’Keefe (IWG UK Secretary General), Nigel Huddleston MP (UK Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) and Monique Maihi-Pihema (representative of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei).
Dignitaries and ambassadors from across the Commonwealth nations were present at New Zealand House to witness the ceremonial passing of the baton to the UK.
Guests were treated to a star-studded panel discussion, messages from the Deputy Prime Minister and Sport & Recreation Minister of New Zealand and Sports Minister of the UK, and a traditional Māori blessing as the Secretariat was officially passed over for the next four-year period.
New Zealand Co-Chair of the IWG, Raewyn Lovett said: “It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been kaitiaki – to have been the guardian – of the world’s largest network dedicated to advancing gender equity and equality in sport, physical education and physical activity.
“Today, we opened the circle, with IWG UK taking over Secretariat leadership globally. IWG New Zealand will continue to lead delivery of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport through to its staging in Auckland this November: where we will close the circle and complete the handover.
“The people and organisations in the room today have extraordinary power and influence and the ability to positively impact the lives of women and girls the world over. We issued them with an invitation to bring this expertise to the table in Auckland, to help us drive change through sport.”
The IWG works throughout the year to highlight important issues facing women and girls in sport and physical activity. It supports development, encourages inclusivity and shares knowledge across its global network to empower women and girls to take part in activity.
It partners and engages with world development and sporting agencies, including UN Women, UNESCO and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), to drive awareness and support positive change. Every four years it stages the world’s largest conference dedicated to gender equity and equality in sport and physical activity, attracting 1,200+ global experts to discuss strategy, grow the community of action and highlight progress to drive further change.
The UK will take over from current hosts Aotearoa, New Zealand for the quadrennial period of 2022-2026, and it will include the staging of the 9th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport 2026.
Annamarie Phelps, UK Co-Chair of the IWG, added: “I am thrilled that we are welcoming the IWG to the UK after nearly 30 years absence, in the midst of the many wonderful sporting moments that this summer has already served up, where the performances of women have captivated the nation.
“All of us here understand the power of sport to unify and inspire, to influence health and well-being, improve economic opportunity; sport can be hugely powerful in shaping norms and stereotypes about gender, race and sexuality.
“As we emerge from the global pandemic, we have a unique moment to use this power to reinvigorate our sector and ensure that we build back stronger, more inclusive, more resilient and sustainable.”
The bid to host the IWG was led by the Sport and Recreation Alliance and received the support of over 100 organisations in the physical activity sector including Sport England, UK Sport, Sport Northern Ireland, sportscotland and Sport Wales.
Registrations for the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport are open with the event due to take place in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and online from 14-17 November 2022. More than 1,200 global leaders and influencers are expected in person with another 500+ virtually. Over 220+ sessions have been scheduled, with nearly 500 global presenters confirmed.
The early bird registration deadline has been extended to 31 August 2022, allowing more participants to access discounted rates. For more information and to secure your place, please visit – www.iwgworldconference.org