England enjoyed strong representation at the World Conference on Women and Sport, which was held in New Zealand earlier this week.
Organised by the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG), the event in Auckland was the eighth time the conference has been held and was the largest yet – with 1,200 in-person attendees and 500 virtual participants taking part.
Three members of our team attended, along with three inspirational women from the West Midlands who have played a pivotal role in helping more women and girls to play sport and engage in physical activity.
Our team, made up of Justine Blomeley, Darcy Hare and Bev Blackburn (appearing in the same order from left to right on the picture above) delivered a workshop called: "Keeping the Nation Active During the Disruption of a Pandemic and a Cost of Living Crisis".
They also used the time to make valuable connections with their international counterparts and shared experiences and learnings.
The IWG, who we are partners with and help 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.
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 has been hosted by New Zealand since 2018
The conference included the final handover to the UK secretariat, with Birmingham set to host the next World Conference on Women and Sport in 2026. Annamarie Phelps, the incoming co-chair, and Lisa O’Keefe, our former executive director and now secretary general of the IWG 2022-26 team, looked forward to bringing the world to Birmingham and focusing on the progress that has been made and the opportunity for systemic change.
The English contingent at the event also included Shah Begum, who was part of the Birmingham 2022 legacy integration team, Naseem Akhtar of Saheli Hubwho, and Hannah Brooman, founder and chief executive of InUnity, a Birmingham based charity that focusses on inspiring girls into sport and physical activity.
The event featured a number of inspirational speakers, including Khalida Popal, an Afghan footballer who spoke about her challenges and the last year in her country as the Taliban returned to power.
Other speakers at the event included Grant Robertson, New Zealand's Sports Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Raelene Castle, Sport New Zealand chief executive, Muditambi Ravele, an independent director of the South African Cricket Board, and UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger – who shared her thoughts on the future of high-performance culture in women’s sport.