Influential figures from sport and physical activity across the UK gathered at the Guildhall in central London to mark the UK hosting the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) for the quadrennial period of 2022-2026.
On Friday 4 March, influential figures from sport and physical activity across the UK gathered at the Guildhall in central London to mark the UK hosting the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) for the quadrennial period of 2022-2026.
It was an opportunity to bring the many ambassadors, campaigners, volunteers and advocates of the UK bid together in person to thank them and to celebrate the prestigious Network returning to the UK almost 30 years on from its launch at the ‘Women, Sport and Challenge of Change Conference’ held in Brighton.
Hosted by the City of London Corporation, the Secretariat Host City, guests were treated to a series of speeches that detailed the UK’s bid journey, its plans for the next four years and how everyone can play their part in inspiring further change.
Among those speaking was the founder of the first IWG, Dr Anita White, who challenged the room to build on the progress made so far and use the next four years to collaborate and make sport better for women and girls around the globe.
Dana Abdulkarim, the first Muslim woman to represent England in any sport, also addressed attendees, sharing her own journey, reflecting on how far society had come since she first picked up a bat and ball, and why she got involved with the UK bid.
“I got involved in the steering group because I no longer want to be a solo advocate. I want to be part of a really big movement that is connected. That is representative. We throw around the phrase that you can’t be what you can’t see – well, you really can’t.”
There were also video messages of support and solidarity from UK Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston and the current Co-Chair of the IWG, Raewyn Lovett.
Sport and Recreation Alliance CEO, Lisa Wainwright MBE, incoming Chair of IWG Global Executive, Annamarie Phelps and City of London’s Keith Bottomley were the other speakers on the night.
Annamarie Phelps used the opportunity to remind those in the room of the aims of the UK bid:
“The UK IWG team will embrace international sensibility so that we harness diverse values and cultures. The creation of a sustainable sports system will be at the heart of our work – a system that recognises and values women-led knowledge, shared best practice and will work towards ever greater inclusivity.
“Our stated aim after much debate is to contribute to a just and sustainable post-pandemic world, where women and girls play a full and equitable part at every level. It is as powerful now as it was mid-pandemic, and perhaps more so, in these circumstances.”
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.
The UK will take over from current hosts Aotearoa New Zealand at the 8th IWG World Conference this November. Registrations for the event are now open – get involved online or in person here.