2014 Highlights – IWG received “Spikes” equality award

One of the 2014 highlights was the 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport in June in Helsinki. The Conference legacy document included two annexes: the Brighton Plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration on Women and Sport and the Conclusions and Recommendations of the 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport Lead the Change, Be the Change.

The International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) was awarded with the “Spikes” prize on gender equality and sport in December in Helsinki, Finland. The prize was awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland and handed to the IWG Patron, Co-Chair, and Secretariat 2010–2014 by Carl Haglund, Minister of Defence also responsible for sport.

The award’s name in Finnish – ”Piikkarit” – stands for both high heel shoes and track spikes. The award was initiated after the first International Conference on Women and Sport held in Brighton, UK in 1994 and given out for the 20th time this year. The prizewinners to date have been people, organizations and initiatives that advance gender equality in the field of sport and physical activity in a sustainable, effective and lasting way.

In his speech during the prize giving ceremony, Minister Carl Haglund praised the successful work done by the IWG during quadrennial term 2010–2014 when the IWG was hosted in Finland by Valo, Finnish Sports Confederation. He addressed his congratulations to the driving force of the team, IWG Co-Chair 2010–2014 Raija Mattila and IWG Secretary General 2010–2014 Terhi Heinilä, and thanked them for their expertise, networks and stamina. As examples of this success, the Minister mentioned the 169 new Brighton Declaration signatories and the 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport “Lead the Change, Be the Change” that gathered up to 1,000 people at the venue and 4,200 viewers online on June 12–15, 2014.

“I hope that the legacy of the IWG will thrive in sports activities in the NGO and other sectors nationally so that the recommendations of the new Brighton Plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration on Women and Sport are included in the objectives and implemented effectively”, Minister Haglund said.

President Tarja Halonen, Patron of the 6th IWG World Conference and chair of the IWG Honorary Committee, thanked the Ministry for their invaluable support for the IWG throughout the four-year term. President Halonen also pointed out that work remains to be done in the field of gender equality in sport, both nationally and abroad, stating that the 6th IWG World Conference was one important stepping stone and a place for gathering and networking along the path.

“The leaders of many of our cooperative organizations such as the UNESCO, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, and the European Commission were present, stating the significance of the cause and speaking out their commitment to advancing gender equality”, President Halonen said in her speech.

IWG Co-Chair 2010–2014 Raija Mattila also pointed out the significance of networking and cooperation in her speech, continuing that some gender equality issues, such as the lack women in sport leadership and coaching tasks and scarce media visibility of women’s sport, are common to all regions of the world, and must be addressed together.

“One of our main aims in 2010–2014 was to strengthen the ties between the IWG and international sports organizations in order for them to raise gender equality and human rights on their agenda. We may conclude that all of these organizations were activated in substantializing the role of women on their own areas,” Mattila thanked.

The conference was organized by the IWG and Valo, Finnish Sports Confederation, with the generous support of the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland; in support with International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC); under the patronage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO; co-sponsored by World Health Organization (WHO); in partnership with United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP), Association of Sport for All (TAFISA), la Conférence des Ministres de la Jeunesse et des Sports de la Francophonie (CONFEJES), International Committee of Sports for the Deaf (ICSD), International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education (ICSSPE), Special Olympics, European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation (ENGSO), and European Olympic Committees (EOC); in association with International University Sports Federation (FISU); under the patronage of Mrs. Androulla Vassiliou, Member of the European Commission; under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjørn Jagland; with Yle, Finnish Broadcasting Company, as Media Partner; and with the invaluable support of the IWG’s NGO Members WomenSport International (WSI) and International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW) and the Coordinating Partners Finnish Olympic Committee, Finnish Paralympic Committee, cities of Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo, National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, Sports Museum of Finland, Helsinki Olympic Stadium and Heureka, the Finnish Science Centre.

The story of the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) began in 1994 with the first World Conference on Women and Sport in Brighton, UK. Chapter by chapter our story has continued with the help of thousands of dedicated women and men the world over to achieve the IWG’s mission: Empowering women – Advancing sport. The 6th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport took place on June 12–15, 2014, in Helsinki, Finland under the overall theme "Lead the Change – Be the Change", gathering participants from 87 countries: athletes, coaches, scholars, teacher, students, leaders and grassroots activists. During the quadrennial term 2010–2014 the secretariat of the IWG was located in Helsinki, Finland. As of September 1, 2014, the IWG has been hosted by the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) in Gaborone, Botswana. For more information, please visit www.iwg-gti.org.