“If you’re not sitting at the table, you are on the menu”.
That’s the warning given to Women in Sport Aotearoa (Wispa) by the Botswana delegation who handed the reins over to a world leading working group for women in sport.
The New Zealand delegation will now lead the International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sport secretariat and conference for 2018-2022.
The warning highlights the importance of having women around the boardroom table regarding sport in this country.
Earlier this year Sport NZ and Appoint – which oversees “effective board appointments” - made a push to get more women on sports boards throughout the country. A Women in Sport Governance Special Interest Group has also been established.
Only 18 percent Women HOLD leadership positions in wider companies and businesses, according to Grant Thornton International’s annual Women in Business report.
Newly appointed Wispa CEO Rachel Froggatt says the warning resonates for her.
“It’s a brilliant example of what is unfortunately happening in a number of sports,” she says. “Without that female voice in leadership – in governance or senior leadership teams - the female element of the sport doesn’t get the attention that it deserves,”
Wispa was established in 2017 and is a domestic advocacy and research agency driving change for women and girls in sport across the spectrum, from playing to governance, academics and media.
IWG on Women in Sport is the world’s largest network of experts working for equality of women and girls across sport.
The group celebrates 25 years in 2019. Some of the founding members are from New Zealand, including New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith.
The New Zealand delegation will be responsible for delivering the IWG strategy globally, supporting global governing boards and working with members and organisations including the UN and UNESCO.
In 2022 Wispa will host the women in sport conference, the largest global gathering of its kind promoting women in 1400 key influencers from government, media, business and academia will descend on Auckland.
Rachel Froggatt says it’s about making “systemic, environmental and cultural” change for girls and women in sport not only in New Zealand but globally. She’s hoping more women will be sitting around the table by then.
“On the whole there is an enormous amount of support [of women in sport in NZ],” Froggatt says. “[But] the ‘armchair supporters’ aren’t getting up going to watch it … [they are] not taking action. We need to turn that … into real tangible outputs.”