WomenSport International Newsletter

Global Voice of Research-Based Advocacy for Women in Sport

Message from the President: December 2021

This year, COVID-19 has once again impacted our lives, changing the way we do business and live our lives. WomenSport International (WSI) has made the best of it by hosting webinars, connecting virtually to a larger audience, and communicating without huge costs to our limited budget. But what has the pandemic brought to the world at large? Increased violence against women (particularly domestic violence, with a spike of at least 27 percent), reduced economic standing for women, and fewer opportunities to be active.

So what is WSI’s role now as we fight for rights and opportunities for women in sport?

WSI must get stronger. We cannot go backwards. It is time for WSI to show that we are an organization that enables change. Right now, WSI is looking to make a change and determine its future. To do this, we need everyone to be behind us. There are many questions facing us, and we want to hear your thoughts and ideas.

How do we feel about the Olympics being held in China or other countries accused of human rights abuses? With governments like Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US enacting diplomatic boycotts of the 2022 Winter Olympics, how does this sit with the athletes? How do we view the IOC’s ability to say the Olympics are not political and yet gladly accept their status at the United Nations, which is dedicated in principle to human rights? What about tennis star Peng Shuai? There is worldwide concern about her safety and well-being and the precedents that her situation has set. WSI congratulates the International Tennis Federation for their decision not to host any major tennis events in China.

What else can WSI do to push for open, transparent access to information and action to protect female athletes worldwide? Topics like this are vital for future WSI seminars and webinars. With open discussions, we can get your opinions and pursue solutions to protect the integrity of sport, making it safe and accessible for girls and women.

On December 14th, 2021, WSI hosted a planning session to discuss our future. We are looking at our visibility and our need for funds to keep seeking fair and equitable opportunities for women in sport. We will share the results of that meeting on our web site and in our next newsletter. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Let us hope for a healthier world in 2022. I wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season.

Diane Huffman

President, WomenSport International

WSI News

The WSI Communication and Membership Committee welcomed two new members, Ms. Ruby Kagaoan (Philippines) and Ms. Aminata H Turay (Sierra Leone). We thank both of them for their immediate contributions and look forward to working with them more!

In October, WSI hosted a webinar entitled “Doping in Sport and the Consequences.” The guest speaker was Ms. Wafeekah Begg-Jassiem (South Africa). Ms. Wafeekah provided useful information, and the participants enjoyed the engaging discussion. Here is a link to the webinar recording for those of you who missed it.

The committee is currently planning the next webinar in January. The proposed topic is sports performance nutrition for female athletes. You will hear more from us in the next few weeks!

We continue welcoming new members to our community. Join WSI through our web site. Benefits include:

  • Access to an international network of experts for sharing research, information, best practices, and actions taken

  • Communication about research-based strategies to enhance gender equity practices in sport

  • Support to enhance opportunities and effect change for women and girls in sport

  • Invitations to WSI functions at international conferences

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and subscribe to us on YouTube!

Kanae Haneishi

Secretary General, WomenSport International

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Team Spotlight: Canada’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team Goes for Gold

Canada, the country that invented ice hockey, hadn’t won an International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship since 2012 – that is, until August in Calgary. Legendary captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored the 3-2 overtime winner in the gold medal game against the archrival Americans, who had won five straight titles. Now the Canadian women hope to dethrone the U.S. as Olympic champs in Beijing in February. WSI caught up with some Canadian stars during the Capital City Challenge exhibition tournament in Ottawa.

Emma Maltais on playing in front of young girls during pre-Olympic games

We see those little girls all the time. With them being here, it just adds to the visibility of what they can be and what they can strive to be. I think that’s what we’re all striving for. The way we are travelling around and getting to play in front of different little girls helps grow the game. At the end of the day, that is what our goal is.

Renata Fast on identifying a fellow Canadian defender who could shine in Beijing

Ella Shelton is an incredible player with a really bright future ahead of her. She’s a young player, but she has so much maturity and she plays the game like that. She’s so solid and she’s a two-way player. Something that sticks out to me is her ability to protect the puck. When there’s pressure on her, she’s very strong, and it’s hard for opponents to move her. She also has great vision. She’s going to be huge for us moving forward.

Jamie Lee Rattray on the IIHF Congress’s decision to stage the first Women’s World Championship ever in an Olympic year (Denmark, Aug. 26-Sept. 4, 2022)

The more hockey, the better. And I think it’ll help with our development too. There’s been a big gap after Olympic years. In the past, we didn’t have a World Championship maybe until April the following year. So I think it’ll just be great. We know that usually women’s hockey is one of the most watched events at the Olympics, and then we can ride that momentum into August.

Interviews by WSI newsletter editor-in-chief Lucas Aykroyd

International Forum: Empowering Women in Slovak and Czech Sports

The women – and a handful of men – who attended a two-day international educational seminar, that took place in Bratislava at the end of September 2021, discussed the empowerment of women in sports diplomacy and how to ensure gender equality in Slovak sports. The forum was organized by the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee and its Commission for Women and Sport, in cooperation with the Czech Olympic Committee and its Equal Opportunities Commission for Sport.

The leader of the seminar was Gabriela Mueller Mendoza, a coach and trainer who specializes in leadership and communication in the process of the empowerment of women in sports. A native of Mexico, Gabriela lives in Switzerland and organizes similar forums for national and international sports federations as well as for the International Olympic Committee.

The two-day seminar was opened by the President of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee, Anton Siekel. “It is an opportunity for participants to share their sports experiences. The empowerment of women in Slovak sports is important to the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee. It allows us to find new approaches to sport and to put them into practice,” said Siekel.

The seminar was an opportunity for women working in sports to improve their qualifications and acquire new skills in leadership, methods of communication and other areas. In addition to lectures, the programme included participation in creative workshops and a visit to the Slovak Olympic and Sports Museum.

The objectives of the seminar were to:

  • Provide women in sports with an opportunity for growth and to improve the opportunities for women to grow in a variety of organizations

  • Work to build key skills and propose strategies and a plan of action with accountability for various organisations/decision-making bodies

  • Encourage women from national sports federations and national Olympic committees to seek leadership positions within their national sports federations, national Olympic committees, and international sports federations

  • Create a group of educated, courageous, and accomplished women who are stronger together and support each another

  • Increase confidence and belief in one’s own personal strength

  • Build dependable relationships between stakeholders to improve international cooperation

  • Build skills and expertise whilst launching action plans to empower leaders in the country

  • Improve leadership and key communication skills with a view to building confidence

  • Provide women with the tools they need to become real leaders

  • Empower women and inspire them to create a solid network of women active in sports

  • Develop a professional style of communication and leadership for today, but also for the future of sports

  • Encourage participants to improve their leadership presence and sharpen their communication skills to provide a positive and productive style of communication

  • Train women leaders to be able to communicate key messages under pressure while they maintain a strong presence and to effectively cooperate with different cultures and male colleagues

  • Define a specific action plan for advancement

“Our objective is to build awareness of the gender equality issue and to raise the status of women in sports in Slovakia. To create a group of capable women whose experience and expertise will benefit sport,” said Monika Šišková, a member of the Executive Committee of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee and the chair of the Commission for Women and Sport of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee.

The forum lasted two days, and at the end, all the participants received certificates of completion.

Professional Opportunities

Women’s Sports Foundation: Digital Content Manager

Just Women’s Sports: Social Strategist

Canadian Women & Sport: Regional Consultant Based in Nova Scotia

News and professional opportunities compiled by WSI newsletter assistant editor Peri Sheinin

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