NZ government announces $950k investment into IWG

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Significant boost to planned hybrid delivery of 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport.

The New Zealand Government has today announced a $950k investment into the IWG New Zealand Secretariat (Women in Sport Aotearoa, Ngā Wāhine Hākinakina o Aotearoa, WISPA), to support the planning and delivery of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport in May 2022.

The news came as New Zealand kicked off a day of events and activities to mark UN International Women’s Day 2021.

The funding comes from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced last year, following the initial impacts of COVID-19.

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Sport & Recreation, the Hon Grant Robertson, said in his statement today:

“The conference is a chance to celebrate the progress New Zealand has and continues to make for women and girls in play, active recreation and sport and society as a whole.

“It also provides the opportunity to advance even more change as one of four major events in the country over the coming three years. It’s important that we ensure this event is as successful as it can be.

“The IWG shares in this vision and provides an opportunity to connect New Zealand with the global conversation on gender equity in sport.”

WISPA is a charity established in late 2016. It exists to transform society through leadership, advocacy and research, thus ensuring that all women and girls gain equity of opportunity to participate, compete and build careers across play, active recreation and sport in Aotearoa.

In early 2018, WISPA led a consortium of seven government and sports agencies, in a bid to bring the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport Secretariat and World Conference to New Zealand; the latter being the world’s largest gathering of experts in the field. WISPA became the IWG New Zealand Secretariat agency in October 2018.

The intent behind the bid was to provide a focal point for change and support the roll-out of the first New Zealand government ‘Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation’ strategy in late 2018.

Rachel Froggatt, IWG Secretary General, said:

“In September 2020, we kicked-off a two-year journey toward and beyond the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport, following months of research, planning and development.

“Throughout 2020, COVID-19 presented a significant challenge in terms of sourcing the funding we needed to realise our vision: to create an inspired ‘community of action’ by positively influencing current attitudes and increasing the awareness, understanding and professional capability of people making decisions about women and girls across the sector.

“We are extraordinarily grateful for this investment from government; it is transformational in terms of what we can achieve. We would like to especially thank Minister Robertson and the Board and senior leadership at Sport New Zealand for their support and faith in our mahi (work).”

Around 1,200 participants physically took part in the most recent edition of the IWG World Conference on Women & Sport – Botswana 2018. The new investment will enable WISPA to deliver a world-first hybrid edition, expected to significantly increase overall audience reach.

Froggatt explains: “The objective is to inspire those working in our sector across the motu (island / nation) and around the world through delivery of practical advice and ideas live from the world’s best strategists and their delivery partners, using an integrated physical and digital approach. In this, COVID-19 has actually made it possible to expand our conversation globally.”

The investment also allows WISPA to accelerate development and launch of its planned Insight Hub; a world first digital platform designed to house the best case studies, research, tools, insights, news and networking activity, to support and inspire people to make positive change within their organisation, sport or activities. This will also host the digital Conference.

Both the World Conference and Insight Hub are being designed aligned to a global theme, “Change Inspires Change”, a concept encouraging the sharing of stories of change – big or small – that inspired positive change for women and girls within sport and physical activity.

Julie Paterson and Sarah Leberman MNZM, co-founders and current co-chairs of Women in Sport Aotearoa (WISPA), speaking on behalf of the WISPA Board said:

“In Aotearoa, the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport is classified as one of the “big four” women’s sports events coming to our shores over the next three years. The three World Cups in cricket, rugby and football will provide an exceptional showcase for women’s sport. Alongside, we are focussed on making sure the impact of these events is supported by a sector capability programme designed to ensure that all changes become permanent.

“On behalf of the Women in Sport Aotearoa Board, thank you very much Minister Robertson, the government and Sport New Zealand for this investment. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, they have never once lost sight of the fact that positive action is required to transform play, active recreation and sport to provide equity of access and opportunity to all women and girls, who together make up 51% of our society.”

Watch the “Change Inspires Change” short film here (90sec):

Get ready for the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport!

Click on the following links to find out more:


For interviews or further information, please contact:

Rachel Froggatt, Secretary General

International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport

0064 (0) 27 546 5836 |


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