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IWG call for action to drive gender equality

The working group on women and sport will pass the hosting baton from New Zealand to the United Kingdom at November's World Conference in Auckland.

4th August 2022

The International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) has called for more action to drive global gender equality at an event forming part of the handover of the IWG from Aotearoa New Zealand to the United Kingdom.

Taking place at New Zealand house in Birmingham, sporting and political leaders gathered as part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which is the first multi-sport event in history to award more medals to women than men.

The IWG, who we are partners with and fund, was established almost 30 years ago in Brighton and is the world’s largest network dedicated to advancing gender equality in sport and physical activity.

Delegates embrace on stage as the IWG on Women and Sport is handed over from Aotearoa New Zealand to the UK at an event at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

Committed to leading positive change that aligns to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, the IWG is currently hosted by New Zealand.

The final handover to the UK will be at the 8th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport in Auckland this November, with our quadrennial period coming to an end with the 9th world conference in Birmingham in 2026.

And our chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, believes there’s never been a better time to be campaigning for gender equality.

"The UK taking the baton as hosts of the IWG could not be coming at a better time as we look to capitalise on the incredible success of so many of our brilliant female sporting stars,” he said.

"Their achievements are a reminder that the work to break down the barriers that stop so many women and girls from participating fully in sport must continue to be a huge focus for us all.

"Becoming hosts of the IWG provides an important and exciting catalyst for this work, and we must ensure that we use its potential to bring decision-makers and influencers together to create lasting change."

Other guests at the event included Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston, New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and incoming IWG co-chair Annamarie Phelps.

They took the opportunity to celebrate the growing success of women’s sport, as well as to reflect on the work still to be done to address inequalities - such as the fact only 7% of chairs and presidents in Olympic and Paralympic sport are women.

"The UK taking the baton as hosts of the IWG could not be coming at a better time as we look to capitalise on the incredible success of so many of our brilliant female sporting stars."

Tim Hollingsworth

Chief executive, Sport England

And for Annamarie, the fact the Lancet Global Health journal found that, across most countries, women are less active than men – meaning millions of women are missing out on the physical, mental and social rewards of physical activity – is cause to continue their campaigning.

“In the week when England won the women’s Euros, helping to catapult women’s sport into the spotlight like never before, it’s the perfect time to be pushing to achieve gender equality across the globe,” she said.

“The IWG network is a platform to both advocate for change and share insights and learnings to help advance gender equality, harnessing the knowledge and momentum from within the IWG movement.”

While for Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston, the recent high-profile women’s sport successes are evidence of progress being made, but he acknowledges we’re far from gender parity.

“While women’s sport continues to go from strength to strength, we know there is more to be done to support women both on and off the field of play,” he said.

“The handover of the IWG is an incredible opportunity to build on the success so far and to push for true gender equality in sport.”

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