Sergey Bubka believes it that it is imperative that the IAAF and other athletics administrative bodies do more to ensure that women have the opportunity to secure leading sport positions and that male and female athletes are also given a route to help govern the sport after retirement.
Bubka, IAAF Vice President and IOC Executive Board member, met the group of prominent female sport administrators, including athletics National Federations presidents and NOCs executives, in San Jose, Costa Rica, during the NACAC Championships.
Bubka delivered his proposals to the group, which he pledged to include in his Vision 2025 agenda if elected as the IAAF President.
Bubka said: “Athletics is the most democratic sport, and it is the IAAF’s objective to make it accessible to both genders – either on the field of play or within the administration.
There are lots of examples of star female athletes who continue to serve our sport after their active career is finished. Irena Szewinska, Nawal El Moutawakel, Stefka Kostadinova, Dona Watson, Stephanie Hightower and many others have become role models not only winning medals but also advocating athletes’ interests in many sport bodies.
Female athletes inspire young women around the world to go for sport. Eight athletics National Federations are chaired by female presidents, and more than two dozen National Federation Secretary Generals are in charge. But it is the global task for the IAAF to support and ensure the equal opportunities for both male and female administrators.”
Bubka’s proposals to strengthen women’s status within the IAAF include introducing an additional Vice President position to be held by women and to be in charge of the sport’s gender policy.
He also vows that every IAAF Committee and Commission must include women, and the IAAF should establish comprehensive quotas of female representation at every level, whether in the IAAF administration, or within Area Associations or National Federations.
Bubka added: “The IAAF must be at the forefront for providing equal opportunities for both genders on the field of play as well as at the office. In my ‘Taking Athletics to the New Heights’ Program I make it clear that the influence of female administrators must be strengthened and developed.
“If I am elected, the IAAF will introduce the system of global education and integration for women. Regional Development Centers will launch special seminars for female administrators, while we will work out the worldwide online education system for retired female athletes and other women who aim for administrative positions. I will initiate the IAAF Women’s Forum to discuss and identify the right solutions for the integration of women into athletics offices.
“The IAAF will provide special grants for the Area Association and National Federation to fund women’s programs and strengthen women’s participation in sport as well as in administration. We will also work with the International Athletics Foundation to develop special programs for the integration of women into the sport of athletics.”
Bubka also proposes to launch a panel of experts who will quickly discuss and propose solutions for any IAAF gender policy matter worldwide. He also says that prominent female sports leaders should be honored at the new IAAF Gala.
“In my Program I propose to modify the IAAF Gala including nominations where we can distinguish the achievements of athletics officials, governing bodies and activists. We will certainly add special nominations for prominent female leaders in our sport where we will honor those who contribute to involvement of women to athletics.
“As an IOC Entourage Commission Chair I cooperate closely with IOC Women and Sport Commission, organizing workshops and Women in World Athletics seminars. The IOC believes that gender equality is one of its priorities. The IAAF can apply for the Olympic Solidarity programs for National Federations to support and educate female administrators. We will involve local female athletics stars in every aspect for the workshops and conferences, where they can share their experience of growing in this sport. If we want athletics to grow and move forward we need to ensure the gender balance and respect human rights using the skills of every member of Athletics family.”
Bubka praised the recent appointments of 14 women to EAA commissions, including four elite athletes elected to the Athletes Commission – Ivet Lalova (BUL), Hanna-Maari Latvala (FIN), Isabelle Pedersen (NOR) and Dana Veldakova (SVK). He also mentioned the Women Athletes Business Network (WABN) Mentoring Program launched by global professional services provider, EY, in partnership with the International Women’s Forum (IWF). The Program matches 25 retired elite sportswomen with prominent IWF members in order to open doors and create next-chapter opportunities.
Bubka commented: “The IAAF has to become the next organization to take up the torch of global education for former female athletes who will serve athletics all over the world.”
Sergey Bubka is also Ukraine NOC President and signed the Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport. During Bubka’s NOC leadership, the number of female staff within the NOC and its regional departments has reached 50%. This figure includes NOC CEO Natalya Kovalenko and NOC Athletes Commission Chair triple jump Olympic medalist Olena Hovorova. Retired female athletes are involved in administrative roles as top executives and head of departments, while ex-star athletes rowing Olympic medalist Nina Umanets and diving Olympic medalist Anna Sorokina have worked as Ukraine’s Chiefs de Mission at every Olympics since 2008.
Sergey Bubka serves as an IAAF Council member since 2001 and IAAF Vice President since 2007. He is a candidate for the Presidency of the IAAF, and the election will be held in August 2015 during the IAAF Congress in in Beijing, China.
His Program, ‘Taking Athletics To New Heights’ is available in six languages (ENG, FRA, SPA, ARA, CHI, RUS) and can be downloaded from here. A video presentation of the Program can be viewed here on YouTube.