Leading by example
Recognising that having gender-balanced Olympic Games is not enough, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken increasing action over the years to ensure it is leading by example and encouraging the whole Olympic Movement to advance gender equality both on and off the field of play.
IOC as an organisation
Promoting gender equality within the IOC has been an important objective of the organisation since the creation of the Women and Sport Working Group in 1995, and a year later, when the IOC took the historic step of amending the Olympic Charter to include an explicit reference to the organisation’s role in advancing women in sport.
More recently, under the leadership of IOC President Thomas Bach, the gender gap in IOC membership, IOC Executive Board and across the IOC commissions has been closing.
The IOC continues to demonstrate its commitment to promoting gender equality within its leadership and is setting an example for other sporting bodies by increasing the number of women in its own decision-making positions. In 2020, the number of female IOC Members rose to 37.5 per cent, 50 per cent more than in 2013, also adding more diversity in terms of age and regional representation. Female representation on IOC commissions in 2020 rose to 47.8 per cent, a historic high that equates to a 100 per cent increase since 2013.
In 1996, the IOC Session recommended that NOCs and IFs set a minimum target of 10 per cent of women in decision-making positions by the year 2000, and 20 per cent by 2005. As progress was made, this target was revised to a minimum of 30 per cent by 2020. IFs and NOCs were encouraged to adopt supporting measures to help them achieve and surpass this objective. To date, several NOCs and IFs have achieved gender balance and many more are making steady progress to close the gender gap in the upcoming Olympiad.
The IOC has also initiated leadership forums and training programmes for women in International Federations, National Federations and National Olympic Committees, to help prepare those in middle and senior management positions to stand for election to leadership positions.
Keeping the conversation going
Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the Olympic Movement, reaffirmed the IOC’s commitment to and priority of gender equality. A tangible outcome of this commitment is the Gender Equality Review Project, launched in March 2018, which aims to strengthen gender equality across the entire Olympic Movement through twenty-five action-oriented recommendations addressing five key themes: Sport, Portrayal, Funding, Governance and Human Resources.