x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Women In Sports: A call goes out for additional roles in leadership

Donna de Varona and other female sporting figures say women have come a long way in competitions but more administrative roles need to be opened to them. Osman Samiuddin reports.

Mariam Saif Al Qubaisi (from the left) head of Special Needs Sector, Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitrian Care and Special Needs, delivers her speech during a panel discussion as Mohammed Saeed Al Neyadi, adviser, Strategic Planning and Organisation Development, Family Development Foundation (UAE), Donna de Varona, former Olympic gold medallist for the United States and a member of the IOC Women and Sport Commission and others look on.
Mariam Saif Al Qubaisi (from the left) head of Special Needs Sector, Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitrian Care and Special Needs, delivers her speech during a panel discussion as Mohammed Saeed Al Neyadi, adviser, Strategic Planning and Organisation Development, Family Development Foundation (UAE), Donna de Varona, former Olympic gold medallist for the United States and a member of the IOC Women and Sport Commission and others look on.

Major female sporting figures called yesterday for enhanced administrative roles for women as the second International Conference on Women in Sport began in Abu Dhabi.

"We have come a long way on the fields of play as performers, but there is a lot of work still to be done in terms of gaining access to leadership positions in sports organisations," said Donna de Varona, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Women and Sports Commission.

De Varona was keen to stress the gains made over the years.

The London Olympics last year were was the first in which women participated in every sport and the first time every National Olympic Committee (NOC) had a female competitor in their delegation.

The situation is improving in administration, where women hold 10 per cent of the top posts in global NOCs and make up 20 per cent of the IOC board - and have three representatives on the executive board.

But much remains to be done.

Other speakers in the opening panel included the acclaimed Kenyan distance runner, Tegla Loroupe, who is also a prominent advocate for women's rights.

"My father told me sports was for men only, but my mother said it wasn't," Loroupe said. "We need to empower sports in our societies for everyone because that will help societies open up."

The conference concludes today with panel discussions involving Nawal El Moutawakel, the first African and Arab female Olympic gold medallist.

El Moutawakel won the women's 400-metre hurdles in the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

She was the first Moroccan to win Olympic gold and also is a vice-president of the IOC.

 

osamiuddin@thenational.ae

 

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