Gymnastics is the kind of sport often held up as an example of sport’s appeal for women. While it is indeed one of the rare Olympic sports that enjoys higher popularity among women than among men, the gender balance in the sport’s governing bodies sometimes does not reflect this reality.
Today, in sport as in all of society, there is a strong will to break the unconscious barriers leading to a gender gap at the highest governance level. The introduction of quotas is one of the mechanisms creating pathways to encourage more women to stand for leadership positions, helping the sport reach a better balance between men and women in the decision-making process.
In 2018, the FIG enshrined gender quotas in its Statutes for several elected positions. The mechanism will be implemented for the first time at this year’s elections, scheduled to take place during the Congress in Antalya, Turkey, on 5–7 November.
It should lead to a minimum of 30% representation per gender for Vice-Presidents, Executive Committee members and Council members, as well as the members of the Gymnastics for All Committee and the technical committees for Trampoline, Acrobatic and Aerobic Gymnastics.
FIG President Morinari Watanabe, one of whose first priorities was to set up the Women in Gymnastics Commission – later renamed the Gender Equality Commission – has initiated actions encouraging women to be more involved and make themselves heard within the sport’s governance.
“We all know that the ability to lead has nothing to do with gender. Women bring different approaches and ways of thinking that are valuable to any international organisation, especially an international federation governing a sport with such strong female participation”, he said.
Many women already sit on the Executive Committee and the FIG Council. Inspiring women can empower other women. “If I managed to do it, others can too,” was the message they spread during the FIG Leadership Forum for Women, which brought together 40 women aspiring to top management positions in 2019.
This year’s elections represent another opportunity to break the glass ceiling at the top level of Gymnastics.
To stand for election, candidates must be endorsed by their national member federation, which must declare the application to the FIG before 2 June. For more information regarding the elections, please check the FIG Statutes.