The International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation IBSF and the International Biathlon Union IBU called on all members of the bobsleigh and skeleton and the biathlon families to contribute to accelerating gender equity following the conclusion of the IBU-IBSF Gender Equity Forum 2022.
The three-day Forum, held on 4-6 May in Munich, drew together stakeholders from both sports, including prominent athletes, alongside international experts to address how strategies can be developed to affect meaningful change.
The Forum agenda was split across presentations, panel discussions and workshops. Expert speakers included Prof. Kari Fasting, a member of the IBU Gender Equality Working Group and recipient of the 2021 IOC Women and Sport Award, who opened the Forum by updating the audience on the scientific background of the topic and the steps that need to be taken by sports organisations:
“Sport is still driven by masculine connotations to gender, which results in culturally established barriers for women such as discrimination in access and treatment and gender stereotypes. Leaders in sports organisations must implement strategies and measures which include the gender perspective in every part of its work to compensate these disadvantages and thus guarantee that women and men operate on a level playing field. It is about changing the culture and structure of sport and its organisations to ensure opportunities for equal access to all roles connected to the sport and its administration. It also requires leaders to treat different people with different needs differently to create a fair and just culture within an organisation.”
As IBSF athlete ambassadors, Austrian bobsleigh pilot Benjamin Maier and North American Cup Coordinator Nicola Minichiello (GBR) joined the forum to talk about the challenges balancing parenthood and sports. “My key learnings are that the problem of Gender Equity is shared by all national federations and sports and people from so many different backgrounds and cultures. And I realised that no matter how much you know already, there is still so much more to learn and to do to overcome also unconscious biases.”
IBSF and IBU World Cup sponsors, BMW, gave insights into their gender equality strategy, focusing especially on recruitment, promotion and developing flexible working models and employee satisfaction. While there were also presentations from the IOC and the Secretary-Generals of the IBU and IBSF.
Following the presentations and panel discussions, the participants split into workshops of six people to share ideas and debate how to accelerate gender equity in sports organisations. The results of these workshops were discussed the following morning, while it was acknowledged that there are different challenges and barriers in different countries.
The Forum concluded with a series of discussions on the importance of male allies from a male and female perspective. IBU President Olle Dahlin, IBSF President Ivo Ferriani and IBU Gender Equality Project Director took part in a panel discussion on male allies.
„Seeing the passionate engagement of our participants at this Forum over the last three days, shows me that not only to us, the IBSF, Gender Equity is an important matter but also to our national federations, athletes and stakeholders. We all play a crucial role in the pursuit of accelerating gender equity. It is an on-going journey where every step forward counts, not matter how small it is“, said IBSF President Ivo Ferriani.
“We all have a role to play. Not just those of us at this Forum but all members of our sporting families. It is our job to work with other stakeholders to steer this change. We are all united in our commitment to gender equity. But as the title of this Forum indicates, we need to accelerate. We need to move faster to address the gender imbalances which exist in our sports. To be sustainable and change for the long-term, we need to address perceptions and behaviours. We need to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes and gender roles. That is what this Forum is all about. It is only when we better engage the women leaders in our sports that we will be able to realise our sport’s true potential”, said IBU President Olle Dahlin.