‘Give a girl a whistle and you teach her to say “stop”…’

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While our Sec Gen Lisa O’Keefe was representing the IWG at the IF Forum in Lausanne, our Chair Annamarie Phelps CBE OLY attended two gender equality events in Madrid.

On Monday 13 November, the Equality Within Sport (EWS) Committee from the European Sports NGO (ENGSO) co-ordinated a meeting of European Gender Equality bodies. Attended by representatives from international organisations including Council of Europe’s Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport, International Federation of Sports Officials (IFSO), EU Commission Sport Unit, ENGSO, European Gay and Lesbian Sport Federation (EGLSF), Global Observatory (GO), IWG and the European Olympic Committee (EOC), the discussion led to the agreement in principle of the following:

  • To strengthen the European-level network of organisations working towards gender equality
  • To identify and fill gaps in the network in particular geographic areas
  • To commit to sharing data and expertise
  • To co-ordinate events relating to gender equality
  • To increase collaboration and co-operation between network members
  • To work together to support a successful IWG conference in Birmingham in 2026.

Following on from this meeting, Annamarie was a delegate at the ‘International Conference on Gender Equality in Sport’ hosted by the Council of Europe, taking place from 14 – 15 November.

Reflecting on the two events, Annamarie said: “This was a hugely successful and productive three days in Madrid. The meeting convened by ENGSO produced some very positive outcomes not just for IWG, but for women and girls in sport across Europe. There was distinct support from colleagues across the bodies for the IWG which was brilliant, and we are looking forward to working with them over the coming years.”

“The Council of Europe conference which followed had an underlying rebellious feel to it, with demands for more political commitment in pushing for positive and expedited action. From the beginning, Emine Bozurt, Chair of the European Commission’s High-Level Group on Gender Equality in Sport, incited the delegates not to settle for moderate aspirations, encouraging the entire audience to chant – “we want more!” This energy carried through to the final session, where Victor Francos, president of the Supreme Council for Sports, pushed for the removal of sugar-coating from the demands for equality, and to call out those blocking progress as misogynists.”

“The conference covered a number of themes ranging from addressing the stereotyping of children at a young age, to re-thinking the values and structure of sport with a gender lens, to the role and the power of the media in creating a positive difference – and plenty more in between.”

“I was particularly impressed by the commitment from the Minister of Culture and Sport from Spain, Miquel Iceta, for his impassioned and honest speech about the need for change, in the wake of the embarrassment caused by the World Cup ‘kiss’. I also enjoyed hearing from Astrid Rodriguez, the Minister of Sports for Colombia give her insights on how sport can contribute to civil society through values.”

“As part of this conference, it was fantastic to see founding influencer and former Co-Chair of the IWG Carole Oglesby recognised with a special award from the Spanish Minister of Culture and Sport for her lifetime contribution to the Women’s Sport Movement.”

“We are making progress for women and girls in sport, but there is undoubtedly more to be done, and I left Madrid feeling very uplifted by the fighting spirit displayed by the influential delegates at both events. I’m optimistic that the momentum from these three days will carry forward, and the IWG are ready to support along the way.”


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