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  • Writer's pictureMaria Flori

New Agreement Supports Women In Sports

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

UN Women. Mexico, football team. Copyright © 2023 Dzilam Méndez

A gender equality agreement was launched between The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations (UN) on September 19, 2023, with the purpose of eliminating gender inequality and encouraging women in sports.

It was signed by IOC President Thomas Bach and UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous during a meeting in New York as an extension of a partnership that began in 2012 and was extended for the first time in 2017.

UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous shakes hands with President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations on 18 September 2023 at UN Women Headquarters in New York. Copyright © 2023 by UN Women/Ryan Brown.

UN Women has been the UN’s agency for gender equality and the empowerment of women. The IOC first signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UN Women in 2012, providing an example of how sport can help break down barriers and challenge gender norms. In 2017, they renewed their commitment through a second MoU, which set out a vision to empower women and girls through sport, while also increasing women’s leadership.

The 2023 MoU’s goal is for each organization to use sports to promote gender equality and to empower women and girls. The new agreement is a two-year general plan of activities that outlines objectives to be achieved by the IOC and UN Women.

During the ceremony, the IOC President was accompanied by Mrs Laura Chinchilla, IOC Member in Costa Rica, Mrs Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, IOC Member in Croatia, and HRH Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, IOC Member in Saudi Arabia.Copyright © 2023 by IOC / Greg Martin

The agreement between the parties has three main objectives, as media consultant for the UN Women, Kiri Jo Ginnerup reveals.The main focus is promoting gender equality in general, with safety and equal opportunities for women and girls, and preventing gender-based violence through sport. “Sport is an unrivaled asset to help us to end all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls,’’ Ginnerup says.

Thoughts on Sports

The agency feels that sport has the power to change lives and has the ability to increase gender equality by teaching women and girls about teamwork, self-reliance, resilience and confidence. UN Women is trying to defy gender stereotypes and social norms, make inspiring role models, and show men and women as equals, in sport.

“Sport has the potential to transform lives and the extension of our partnership with UN Women will help us to ensure that all women and girls have the opportunity to benefit from this unique power of sport,” said President Bach during the signing ceremony. He believes that with this new MoU, girls will be encouraged to participate in sports more and it would be a leap forward towards gender equality.

Olympic athlete Marios Kapotsis says that sport is culture. Younger people in sports are nurtured to become better citizens, through their activity. Children build character and mutual respect, both in competitive or non-competitive sports. “Gender inequality has no place in sports,” he says.

Olympic athlete Marios Kapotsis in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Copyright © 2021 by Marios Kapotsis.

Kapotsis thinks that these are good days we live in, as we have reached a point in society where there is no room for inequality and he can see that from his long experience as an athlete. ‘’Today, in the year 2023, things are exactly how they are supposed to be,’’ he said.

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