75% of Olympic federations acknowledged International Women’s Day—but only 7.5% have a female President, and 25% a female General Secretary

March 09 2023

30 out of 40 summer and winter Olympic federations (73%) issued a statement about International Women’s Day on 8th March—but only three (7.5%) of those federations have a women president, while only ten (25%) have a female General Secretary.

75% of Olympic federations acknowledged International Women’s Day—but only 7.5% have a female President, and 25% a female General Secretary

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) led acknowledgements for International Women’s Day 2023 from a wide range of Summer and Winter Olympic federations by “celebrating female coaches who are paving the way for future generations.”

Whilst Paris 2024 is aiming to be the first to “have full gender equality in terms of athletes”, only 13% of coaches at Tokyo 2020 were women.

"For young women out there that want to coach, and want to work at the highest level, it’s much easier to envision that if they see somebody else doing it. I tell women all the time: Ask the question, why not me?" Canada’s Karin Harjo, the first woman to coach an Alpine ski team

The IOC said in a statement that it “is committed to addressing the challenge and to supporting Olympic Movement stakeholders to find pathways for more women to reach the highest levels of coaching. Increasing the visibility of elite coaches who have broken those barriers and who are role models for more women to follow their lead is itself a goal.”

Summer Olympic sports federations

21 out of 29 summer Olympic sports federations acknowledged International Women’s Day.



World Athletics announced

the launch of #WeGrow Athletics, “a campaign designed to build on the strides the sport has taken towards greater gender equality.”

“As part of the launch, World Athletics is making a number of pledges to commit to further advance the role of girls and women in athletics in three core areas of the sport – empowering women in leadership positions, breaking with traditions and shining a spotlight on women’s stories across its platforms.”


World Aquatics acknowledged that:

“Aquatic sports have long made gender equality a priority. For competitions, this is illustrated by a combined presence at Paris 2024 Olympics that includes more women athletes than men, helping enable the Games overall to achieve gender equality for the first time.”


The Badminton World Federation (BWF) followed the IOC’s lead by recognising

“women who continuously strive to achieve their professional and personal goals in all spheres of life”, with a particular focus on women coaches and one of their players Monika Radovska.


The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) focused on

“creating safe and inclusive environments for females is a crucial step towards achieving gender equality and empowering women. However, creating such spaces can sometimes be challenging.”


The International Canoe Federation (ICF) President, Thomas Konietzko, recognised

“the important role women have played in growing our sport, and the work still to be done to achieve genuine equality.”

“Half of the population in the world are women. Unfortunately, this is not reflected by equal access to all areas of life in a lot of countries around the world.”


The International Cycling Federation (UCI) focused on Fiona Cluzeau, who started her apprenticeship as a bike mechanic in 2019:

“It came as a surprise to her when on the first day of her theory classes at the Ecole Professionnelle (professional school) in Lausanne, Switzerland, she was the only female present among the combined introductory class of car mechanics, panel beaters, electrical mechanics and bike mechanics.”


The World Dance Sport Federation republished a post

referring to an article first published in 2017 about gender equality in Dancesport.



The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) announced that:

“International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the women across the world who have made a difference in our lives, whether big or small.

In the equestrian world, both female athletes and behind-the-scenes officials have been instrumental in developing the sport to the level it is now.”


FIFA announced that:

“36 participants from all around the world have been selected by FIFA to attend the latest edition of the Women in Football Leadership Programme, which is being held from 6 to 10 March in Lausanne (Switzerland).”


The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) announced on Twitter:

“Happy International Women’s Day! We’re celebrating the magnificent women in our sport today. Let us know what are some of your favourite routines from past world championships!”


The International Handball Federation (IHF) stated that:

“8 March marks International Women’s Day (IWD), a global day to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements worldwide. The day is also a call to action for equality, which is in line with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”


FIH President Tayyab Ikram stated:

“On International Women’s Day, I would like, on behalf of FIH, to reassert how essential it is for our sport that all conditions are met and all measures taken for a fully gender equal sport, be it on the pitch – for players, coaches and officials – or off the pitch – by ensuring equality also in terms of leadership.”


The IJF President stated that:

“8th March is the designated day to celebrate the achievements of women all over the world. In Judo, we celebrate women day by day, as we can see and feel their presence in all aspects of our sport: as athletes, coaches, referees, technical officials and leaders. Women are working together with men, for the betterment of judo and its development in all forms, on all continents.”


FIL focused on women coaches and announced that:

“The world of coaches in winter sports is still a male domain. From my point of view, this is mainly due to the fact that women with children and family find it difficult to reconcile the extensive travel activities,” says FIL Sports Director Maria-Luise Rainer.

Modern Pentathlon

World Pentathlon posted on Twitter:

The “Life of #ModernPentathlon Association of Guatemala President Maria Magdalena Quintanilla”


World Rowing also focused on women coaches and stated that:

“Women are still in a minority in leadership roles in rowing; their numbers are growing, but getting to the top as a female coach or similar role remains unusual.

For International Women’s Day 2023, we spoke to three women about the challenges they have faced in building a career in high-performance rowing, and how to get more women to follow in their wake.”

Rugby Union

World Rugby stated that it

“is joining the global call to #EmbraceEquity as it steps up plans for the next phase of growth and transformation for women in rugby, culminating in the much-anticipated debut of the new global competition, WXV later this year.”

“Following the record-breaking Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand, which captured the imagination of fans around the world, and with accelerated investment, further governance reform and planning well underway for the biggest-ever Rugby World Cup 2025 in England, the pace of change in the women’s game in 2023 continues to advance.

The accelerated change is being driven by a transformation of World Rugby’s business model designed to supercharge the growth of the sport worldwide by focusing on moves that will make rugby more relevant and more accessible to more young people in more nations. Women and girls are at the heart of that plan, representing a significant opportunity to grow the reach and relevance of the sport.”


World Sailing celebrated

bronze medal winning Olympian, Sofia Papadopoulou from Greece, who “became the first sailing coach to take part in the Women in Sport High Performance Pathway – known as the WISH Programme – joining 31 female coaches, from 25 countries and representing nine federations as international sport unites to close the gender gap in coaching in Olympic events.”


World Skate posted an image on Instagram stating

“We are Women”.


Table Tennis

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) announced that:

“As we celebrate International Women’s Day, the ITTF Group reinforces its commitment to empowering women in all their diversity and promoting a gender-equal sport every day of the year. Whether it’s staff, athletes, sports leaders or elected officials, gender equal participation in table tennis is the basis for a sustainable future for our sport. Through the ITTF, the ITTF Foundation, and World Table Tennis, significant strides have been made to make table tennis more inclusive and diverse, but more needs to be done within all entities.”


World Taekwondo and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF)

“reinforced their commitment to ensuring equal opportunities for women and men and using Taekwondo as a tool for women’s empowerment.”

“Both organisations are targeting achieving full gender equality and empowering women and girls as per United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 5.”


The International Tennis Federation (ITF)

issued a call for men in leadership positions across tennis to

“Play their part in its drive for gender equality in the sport by becoming Advantage All Male Allies. The Men as Allies programme is a key element of the ITF Advantage All gender equality strategy, and ITF President Dave Haggerty has renewed his appeal for other male leaders and influencers in tennis to advocate for women in senior roles across leadership, coaching and officiating.”


World Triathlon hosted

an online panel discussion with “women from around the world, hosted by the Women’s Committee and focussing on this year’s theme ‘Embrace Equity’.”

“Everyone is welcome to attend the panel discussion and hear from the inspiring line-up of speakers on Wednesday, 8th March via a virtual meeting. There will also be an opportunity for members of the community to participate in question time with the panellists. The World Triathlon Women’s Committee is responsible for promoting equal opportunity and inclusion for all to participate in every aspect of the sport of Triathlon, Paratriathlon and Multisport including as Technical Officials and Athletes. Equity is a must-have in sport. A focus on gender equity is an integral part of all do within World Triathlon.”


The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) celebrated

“women at every level of the sport, from the athletes who inspire women and girls across the globe through sporting excellence, to those governing volleyball who are serving as role models for future leaders of the sport.”


The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) acknowledged that:

“Forty years ago, in Moscow (RUS), the IWF Executive Board took a decision that would change the face of weightlifting: the acknowledgment that our International Federation needed to rule also on women competing in the sport. This was naturally the consequence of the increasing activity of female athletes around the world, who were missing a formal and institutional recognition of their pioneering role. On this International Women’s Day, we recall the path of success since those early days in 1983 and the extraordinary progress since then for all women that chose weightlifting as their beloved sport.”


The Union of World Wrestling (UWW) stated that:

 “Throughout wrestling history, efforts have been made to make the sport more inclusive. Women’s wrestling emerged as the top priority for United World Wrestling.

Over the years, the organization has taken various steps to uplift and improve the standard of women’s wrestling around the world. Here are ten moments that changed women’s wrestling.”

Winter Olympic Sports Federations

Amongst the eight winter Olympic sports federations, five acknowledged International Women’s Day.


The International Biathlon Union (IBU) posted on LinkedIn:

“The IBU celebrates International Women’s Day by launching “Breaking Boundaries” where we tell the stories of women from all walks of the biathlon life. Starting with Clare Egan, former biathlete from the US and current chair of the IBU Athletes’ Committee and member of the IBU Executive Board.”

Watch the full video here: https://lnkd.in/eThU44hg


The World Curling Federation (WCF) posted on Facebook:

Happy International Women’s Day! #IWD2023

Bobsleigh & Skeleton

In line with the IOC, the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation celebrated “our fantastic female coaches who dedicate their work to support athletes around the world!”

Ice Hockey

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) marked the celebrations by presenting:

“A list of women in hockey we can all be proud to know and admire, women whose words and actions, voices, determination, and ambition, have paved the way so far and will continue to pave the way to grow the game around the world, in places familiar and unfamiliar. The list is alphabetical and is not intended to rank in any way. All these women deserve the praise and admiration of hockey fans around the world.”


The International Skating Union (ISU) also focused on women coaches, stating that:

“International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate and recognize achievements of women in the Ice Skating world. In the following lines, we will focus on four women coaches who are paving the way for future generations.


What is clear from the level of engagement from the Olympic international federations that many of them take very seriously the need to improve their gender equality programmes and to support more women develop leading roles in areas like coaching but a great deal more needs to be done to support women taking leadership roles within the international federations themselves.

Add your own comments and join in the discussion by clicking on this link.Mike Laflin

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