ICF looks at way to increase women in decision making roles

The International Canoe Federation must embrace upcoming opportunities to increase the representation of women in decision-making positions, according to the chair of the federation’s Diversity and Inclusion Commission, Cecilia Farias.

Ms Farias was speaking after the fourth edition of the International Federations Gender Equality Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, last week. The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and the Association of International Olympic Winter Federations (AIOWF) all took part in the meeting.

The current status of gender equality in sport within the International Sports Federations framework was presented, with the general consensus that not enough women are in decision-making positions and more needs to be done to increase the numbers.

“We shared best practises and initiatives of funding women athletes via projects such as the Canoe Women Project of the ICF,” Ms Farias said.

“This year we are organizing the seventh ICF Women’s Canoe Cup. The first five were organised with the cooperation of the Boulogne Canoe Federation, the last two with the cooperation of the Hungarian Canoe Federation.

“They were key partners for the progress of this project. The need of supporting the canoe men brought us to modify it into, simply, a single overall canoe project.”

The meeting identified the need to provide better funding for women in decision-making . “This was considered vital in order to avoid marginalisation and unconscious bias,” Ms Farias said.

“Next year, the Olympic Games will be the most important reunion of the canoeing family in Tokyo, along with the next ICF congress in Manila,” she said.

“A number of board and committee positions will be open and as many competent women as possible should be encouraged to run for election. The ICF standing committees currently have at least one-woman member, though there are no females in the position of chair.

“The establishment of quotas for the participation has been an effective tool and we shall be consistent on its use. The women currently in positions of decision must encourage women to run for elections, to become the chairs of the groups on which they have been working for years, gaining knowledge and experience.”

Ms Farias said serious consideration should be given to sponsoring women to progress on their careers in sport.   

The former ICF Women Committee, which has evolved into the Diversity and Inclusion Commission, has been working to lift representation of minorities across the board.

It produces the ICF equity charter, and helped modify statutes to increase the participation of women as congress delegates, and executive and standing committee members. 

Prize money for male and female athletes in ICF events are equal, and the selection of judges for ICF events have to consider equality based on the received nominations.

Seminars and meetings are being held to analyse and understand better the structures and the incorporation of women in canoeing in different capacities.

ICF women are judges, jury, event organisers, technical personnel and staff, and contribute with the best of their knowledge to a richer culture of canoeing for present and future generations.