World Athletics on Wednesday pledged to have 40 percent female representation in its Council, the all-powerful decision-making body, and a woman vice president this year in a significant step towards gender equity in the sport.
In several initiatives announced on the occasion of International Women's Day, the world athletics governing body also committed itself to the extension of its Ukraine Solidarity Fund to enable Ukrainian athletes, the majority of them female, to participate in World Athletics Championships and other events this year. "... increase the number of women on the World Athletics Council from eight members currently to a minimum of 10 members – including at least one female Vice President – at the Council elections in August 2023.
Women will represent 40% of the World Athletics’ Council," World Athletics said in a release. "Build a pipeline to increase to 50% the female representation across our four commissions for the 2023-2027 term, to provide more opportunities for female administrators with aspirations to run for our Council in 2027."
WA also aims to increase the number of female coaches at the World Championships to at least 20% by the 2025 edition in Tokyo by encouraging member federations to send more female coaches and providing the learning pathway in countries where women are underrepresented at the coaching level.
"To help us achieve this, our Gender Leadership Taskforce is working with the IOC Female Coaching Leadership Programme - WISH - to enable eligible female coaches to be selected as part of their national team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. A total of eight candidates from athletics have been selected for the program."
Each of the new pledges was aimed at improving gender equity in athletics and closing the gender gap in the sport in the third year of the #WeGrowAthletics campaign, the world body said.
Launched on International Women's Day 2021 with the ambition of making substantial gains in eliminating gender bias in athletics, this campaign has already made notable strides in fulfilling or initiating all of the pledges we have made in the last 24 months, it said.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: "To achieve true equity in our sport, we must offer our female athletes, administrators, and officials the tools and environment they need to be empowered to pursue careers at all levels of athletics. "Be it by setting quotas for female representation on our Council, or providing more flexible learning and development opportunities that better suit women’s commitments – we are dedicated to making our sport equitable and representative for all."
He urged all the stakeholders to take an active role to achieve the collective goals regarding equity for women in athletics, sport, and every aspect of life. In addition to the new pledges, World Athletics said it was making an additional pledge to support female Ukrainian athletes a year after the outbreak of war in their country.
"Last year, through the establishment of our Ukraine Solidarity Fund, we supported over 100 Ukrainian athletes – along with their immediate family members and entourage including coaches and technical officials – to train, qualify, and participate in World Athletics Championships events. Female athletes made up 70% of athletes.
"We pledge to repeat the World Athletics Ukraine Solidarity Fund to support Ukrainian athlete attendance in Budapest and other World Athletics Championships events."