World Athletics is making a series of new impactful pledges to promote women in our sport – including creating further opportunities for them to shine, and fostering gender diversity and female empowerment. These new pledges are all aimed at improving gender equity in athletics as we enter the second year of our #WeGrowAthletics campaign.
Initially launched on International Women’s Day 2021 with the ambition of making substantial gains in eliminating gender bias in athletics, World Athletics has already made strong strides, fulfilling all the pledges we made 12 months ago (report card here).
This year, we will continue to recognise the essential role women play in growing our sport and celebrate the great female role models we already have – all while breaking down barriers to female participation at all levels of athletics. Listed below, our 2022 pledges are the result of ongoing internal reviews across World Athletics’ departments and are brought together under the following three core pillars:
1. #WeGrowAthletics by celebrating the women who make our sport through sharing inspiring stories of role models across all levels. As part of this commitment, World Athletics pledges to:
– celebrate World Athletics Women’s Week for the duration of 7-13 March 2022, whereby all feature content on World Athletics platforms will be about, and created by, women. Kicking off with Pauline Davis-Thompson’s podcast conversation with World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.
– use its newly re-launched ‘Women in Athletics’ website section to highlight the stories of inspiring women all year round.
– gather #BreakTheBias stories of female role models from World Athletics, its Member Federations, Area Associations, athletes and fans throughout the year to be turned into a bound copy featuring 365 inspiring stories of women all around the world – one for every day of the year – to share with future generations.
2. #WeGrowAthletics by creating more opportunities for women to shine be it in the media, on the field of play, as community leaders, or in administration positions.
Through the Governance Structure Reform, the World Athletics Council is already set to move to 50:50 gender parity by 2027, with clear milestones in place. As a result of last year’s pledges, a review of World Athletics Series Events scheduling will see the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 end with the women’s 4x400m relay for the first time in event history.
In order further to grow the visibility of women across all levels, World Athletics pledges to:
– continuously look at the voices covering the sport on our own platforms and pledges to work towards gender parity on reporting teams, among freelance contributors, as well as photographers.
– as we add new one-day meetings and road events to our popular circuits and leagues, we will continue to review the scheduling, broadcast coverage and remuneration of athletes to ensure gender equity.
– ensure our Media Development Programme and Young Reporters Programme not only provide equal opportunities for participants, but also have gender parity through their speakers, lecturers, and facilitators.
3. #WeGrowAthletics by fostering gender diversity and female empowerment through mentorship, grassroots, safeguarding, contracts and partnerships. In order to achieve this, World Athletics pledges to:
– support all Member Federations to implement safeguarding policies by 2023 (as outlined in the World Plan) through consultation and the provision of templates and educational material as required to ensure our sport is a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.
– organise a Gender Leadership Conference during the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 to discuss barriers, solutions and pathways for women in athletics.
– introduce a Mentoring Programme in 2022 and build on the Gender Leadership Taskforce’s eLearning seminars which were launched in late 2021.
The announcement of these new pledges kicks off World Athletics Women’s Week – a week dedicated to celebrating all things women in athletics – which will run from 7-13 March 2022 and coincides with International Women’s Day. In order to highlight the occasion, all World Athletics platforms will, for the second year in a row, feature a version of the World Athletics logo inspired by the colours of the suffragette movement and all related content will be about, and produced by, women. There will also be a specially designed emoji running alongside the #WeGrowAthletics hashtag on Twitter.
In addition to World Athletics’ pledges, a number of partners and key stakeholders will be making their own pledges to address areas in which further progress is needed, and use their respective expertise to further advance women in their fields – tackling existing biases head-on.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “World Athletics is proud to be taking an active role once again in supporting International Women’s Day by committing to a number of new and impactful pledges aimed at further achieving gender parity in our sport. Reaching gender equality requires deliberate and ongoing effort at all levels of athletics – from the governing bodies down to the local clubs. World Athletics has long been a leader in promoting gender equality and, while we dedicate this week to showcasing our various initiatives and celebrating the inspiring female role models in our sport, it is important that we dedicate the same enthusiasm towards gender equality every other day of the year as well.
“We know that actions speak louder than words, and I am proud to say that World Athletics has either implemented or put into action every single pledge that we made last year, and we intend to do the same with our 2022 pledges. We hope that our commitment inspires other sports and organisations to join us in our efforts and make pledges of their own.”
Acknowledging the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Lord Coe added: “On this International Women’s Day, World Athletics particularly want to recognise the bravery and heroism of all the women in Ukraine whose lives have been turned upside down in this last week, but who are finding the resolve and determination, separated from their partners, fathers and brothers, to keep their families safe and defend their country.”
How to get involved with the #BreakTheBias campaign
Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to progress. Recognising the importance of visible role models in tackling bias, World Athletics invites all its partners and stakeholders to join in this year’s International Women’s Day theme to share inspiring stories of female role models in and around athletics to collectively #BreakTheBias and inspire an equal and sustainable tomorrow.
To play your part to #BreakTheBias:
– Strike a pose (cross your arms in solidarity like this)
– Post the photo to social media
– Tag a role model
– Pledge to share their story with the world