A meeting of the International Canoe Federation’s Diversity and Inclusion Commission has discussed challenges associated with the advancement of women in different countries around the world.

爱博体育官网Canoe athletes, judges and administrators from all five continents took part in the discussion, which looked at existing programs within the ICF designed to promote women, and canvassed potential new initiatives.

The meeting was told that in some regions the challenges are far greater. Religion and cultural norms often act as a barrier to women progressing in sport. In some countries women are not allowed to even watch sport, let alone compete.

爱博体育官网ICF development programs are playing a major part in breaking down some of these barriers.

爱博体育官网“Culture in some parts of the world has a big role to play in this project, because it will affect all activities of women,” Iran’s Katayoon Ashraf, coach of her country’s women’s canoe team, said.

“Some part of the budget must be used to better familiarise ourselves with local cultures and expanding our knowledge. Some countries don’t give many opportunities for women, even for watching events.”

爱博体育官网Ashraf told the video conference of her own experience running ICF development camps in Iran. When she began six years ago, she was the only female coach in Iran, there were no women judges, and only a handful of women actually doing the sport.

爱博体育官网Within five years, numbers had swelled; more than 20 female coaches, 25 judges, and close to 100 athletes across ten Iranian provinces.

“Some women were afraid to come and join us, but after one year the numbers surprised everyone,” Ashraf said.

爱博体育官网Nigeria’s Oluode Olubunmi spoke of similar roadblocks in parts of Africa, and the struggles she had getting canoeing even recognised in Nigeria.

“I was told it wasn’t athletics or basketball, so they didn’t see it as a competitive sport,” she said.

“If you are coming in as a woman, you need to have your position well stated and well set out. We have to be ten steps ahead.

爱博体育官网“Some of my colleagues pitied me.”

爱博体育官网ICF Diversity and Inclusion Commission chair, Cecilia Farias, acknowledged these were areas of major concern.

“Every action that we have should be well planned and better delivered, and should be monitored in terms of results” she said.

爱博体育官网“We have different abilities, and different skills, and we can bring them back to the communities. There is the gift that we have as women, to create opportunities and develop more ideas, because we cannot wait for everything to be given.

“Dedicated programs for women produce not only more skills, but also build up stronger personalities, leadership skills and acquire more knowledge.”

爱博体育官网The video meeting also discussed the importance of diversity in succession planning, which was support by ICF vice-president, Thomas Konietzko.

爱博体育官网“We have to always look out for obstacles preventing women from progressing, and then we need to work to remove them,” he told the commission.

爱博体育官网Elite athlete Michele Eray spoke about the importance of identifying good role models in women’s sport, and of having women in coaching and leadership positions that other women can aspire to.