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09 December 2019 | in FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy, Gender Equality

FISU Student Ambassadors take gender equality lead during IOC forum

FISU Student Ambassadors Anna Edes, Adam Pratchett, and Annett Fodor took part in the IOC’s New Leaders Forum last month in Helsinki. Focused on increasing equality in sport, the forum's title was "Lead the Change and Be the Change.”


Raising their hands during the roll call when European sports leaders met to take a more active lead in gender equality and inclusion in sport were FISU Student Ambassadors Anna Edes, Anett Fodor, and Adam Pratchett during the IOC’s New Leaders Forum under the event title,“ Lead the Change and Be the Change.”


The three emerging sports leaders took part took part in the forum’s second edition, was hosted by the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Finland, and put on in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the European Olympic Committees (EOC). Birgitta Kervinen, the 2017 IOC Women and Sport World Trophy Winner, was the catalyst getting the forum off the ground in her home country, which took place from 18-20 November. 


The Helsinki forum follows two years after Lithuania hosted the inaugural event, which served as a call to action on ensuring there’s gender equality in Europe’s sports leadership. The two events bookend the IOC Gender Equality Review Project and its 25 recommendations to sports leaders and federations to increase equality and opportunity in sports. 


 "The New Leaders Forum was an inspirational event, bringing together over 200 of the top sports leaders and experts in gender equality from across the Olympic movement,” said Pratchett. “Achieving gender equality in all of FISU's activities is a significant task, however, I believe FISU should lead from the top and take more steps towards achieving that goal. 


“As a FISU Ambassador, I've been fortunate to work with a number of FISU's Committee members over the past 2 years," added Pratchett. "I am looking forward to continuing to work with them to help FISU lead the change and achieve gender equality in sport.” 



Delving into the gender diversity of international sports federations currently shows women are gravely underrepresented at the executive level. Looking at ten major sports governing bodies, including the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, FISU, International Cycling Union, World Rugby, World Athletics, and others that all the federations had less than 40 percent of women on their board — and none is run under female leadership. 


IOC President Thomas Bach opened the event's second edition by saying the 30 young leaders in sport in the room were "exactly the kind of practical action that we need" for sport federation governance to reach a 50:50 gender balance


Saying “we have to be ambitious to reach gender equality” and calling the forum “a best practice in action” IOC President Thomas Bach opened the event. During his inspiring speech, Bach praised Edes, Fodor and Pratchett, and the others in the room for being agents of change.


“Here we have 30 young leaders in sport from across all of Europe, who are committed to leading the change toward gender equality,” the IOC President said. “This is exactly the kind of practical action that we need.”


The New Leaders Forum capped the programme to 30 Young Leaders that brought men and women from across Europe into a training programme where they were mentored by the continent’s current sports leaders.


As the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”


In an illustrative gesture that they were fully committed to the equality cause but there was still plenty of race left to be run to achieve that outcome, forum participants passed on an athletics relay baton to President Bach. 


FISU Volunteer Leader Leader Academy 2017 participant Fodor ended the event hopeful for the gender equality movement while also noting that change at this level is a marathon and not a sprint.


“There is still a lot to do in the topic of gender equality in sport,” Fodor said. “I am happy to see that more and more decision-makers are involved to conferences, forums like this one and I would hihglight the mentorship programme, which was really useful part of the IOC New Leaders project.


“One thing is sure, it is a slow process and we can not run out of energy before the goal will be achieved.”