Between 10-11 October 2017 International Hockey Federation (FIH) Executive Board Member and European Hockey Federation (EHF) President Marijke Fleuren attended the 'Advancing Women in Leadership Roles' Forum,organised jointly by the National Olympic Committee of Lithuania and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Vilnius, Lithuania.
With an emphasis on identifying tactics and initiatives designed to provide women with the confidence to stand for or apply for decision making positions within sport and supporting women in leadership positions, the sessions proved incredibly valuable.
The Forum was attended by 200 participants from 40 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the IOC, European Olympic Committees (EOC) and many other sport organisations.
The event was officially opened by Daina Gudzinevičiūtė, the President of the Lithuanian Olympic Committee together with Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, Janez Kocijančič, Acting President of the EOC, and Snežana Samardžič-Markovič, the Council of Europe’s Director General of DG Democracy.
During the forum IOC President Thomas Bach reminded attendees of sport's role in society and its ability to act as a tool to empower women, especially young females. This resonates particularly well with FIH's 10-year strategy aimed at making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.
Progress is certainly being made, especially in hockey, a sport that prides itself on being 'Gender Amazing' thanks to considerable equality across all levels of the sport. This is also reflected by the fact that next year's Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires is completely gender balanced - 50/50, and Tokyo at 48% women and 52% men. Despite such developments, work still has to be done to ensure more women are taking on senior roles, whether through coaching or in administration for example.
Mixed gender sports were also used as an example to foster parity. With growing numbers of people playing Mixed Hockey across the world, this is a discipline that could help support hockey's bid to remain one of the most gender balanced sports on the Olympic Programme.
By participating in Panels and learning from others, Fleuren gained vital knowledge from a host of speakers passionate about improving gender parity across sport. Speaking about her experiences, Fleuren said: "In sport we don't have to act in isolation to society. We have to build a positive momentum for the cause of gender equality because it's a human right. As Thomas Bach stresses repeatedly: It's just not logical to ignore 50% of the intelligence and knowledge of 50% of the population."
She continued: "You have to show leadership to get gender balance. It is now a fundamental principle of good governance - but we must reinforce this message by delivering on promises. We must also recognise the importance of young people. If we give them the right education, opportunities and tools and by creating positive role models, we can make significant steps to improving gender parity across all levels of sport."
For more information about the Advancing Women in Leadership Roles Fourm, .