Actions speak louder than words when it comes to building diverse and equitable teams, whether in business or sports. This according to the International Association of Athletics Federations, which held a two-day gender-focused conference hosted by the Bahrain Athletics Association to tackle barriers for female athletes the world over.
This is one in a series of initiatives Bahrain hopes to host and according to His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, is one way the kingdom aims to inspire young athletes.
“ Young people need role models and the Kingdom continues to work hard to deliver opportunities for Bahrain’s youth, particularly through school sports, working with young women to support and develop the next generation of leaders in sport.”
Being able to reflect off the field of play what is widely heralded as one of the most diverse and culturally attuned sport on the field of play is critical to remaining relevant to all fans but affirmative action is the only way the world of athletics can shift the dial, according to IAAF president Sebastian Coe.
“We have parity in pay, parity in play but not parity in positions,” Coe added. “I believe if you want cultural change it will only be achieved if it is properly accounted for in the business model.”
Chaired by IAAF council member and former US champion hurdler Stephanie Hightower, the working group highlighted three key areas of focus for female athletes; it starts with encouraging male advocacy, using the power of voice at all levels of the sport, identifying bias and changing the selecting process.
IAAF will work with its 214 member federations on previously agreed gender targets at the governing level of the sport. The task of this working group is to identify ways to empower the member federations to feed into these goals.
Member federations know the people in the sport at a grassroots level and need to look at the barriers and opportunities – both economic and social – to women entering all levels of the sport from coaching to officiating and administration.
“Only then will we have the strong and committed pipeline that represents the sport globally and can filter both the quality and quantity of women ultimately into the top positions.”