Gender equal and safe sport advocate, HRH Prince Feisal of Jordan speaks at ONOC Gender Equity and Diversity Master Class

While gender equity challenges are universal, it is important to note that to move things forward, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.

Speaking to Oceania participants at the ONOC Gender Equity and Diversity Master Class, Vice-Chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Gender Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Commission, HRH Prince Feisal Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan said; “In the development of strategies to address issues of gender equity there is no one-size-fits-all.”

Acknowledging the importance of contextualising gender initiatives to increase success

“At ANOC [the Association of National Olympic Committees], we are trying a Continental approach that takes into consideration the history, culture, and demography of peoples.”

This is important toward bridging the gender equity gap on all five continents of the Olympic Movement, particularly in increasing the participation and growth of women in sport as athletes, administrators, technical officials, coaches, managers and leaders.

It is of importance in Oceania, especially in the Pacific Islands, where culture and history deeply influence women and girls’ participation in society.

HRH Prince Feisal also spoke about safe sport and safeguarding which are linked to women and girls in sport given harassment and abuse stemming from gender discrimination.

What is Safe Sport and why is Athlete Safeguarding important?‍

Safe sport refers to an athletic environment that is respectful, equitable and free from all forms of non-accidental violence to athletes.

Safeguarding refers to measures and initiatives which are put in place to prevent harassment and abuse. (Source: IOC)‍

HRH Prince Feisal said; “Another issue is Safe Sport – at the IOC we came up with the IOC Athlete Safeguarding Toolkit in 2017 and many International Federations and NOCs have begun to look at it to understand the issues.”

“One of the issues that came out of that was nobody knew what a Safeguarding Officer was and what were the qualifications [to be one] so at the IOC we have now developed the Safeguarding Officer course.

“In our first cohort, we had 54 who are now qualified Safeguarding Officers and in the current one, there are 94 people who have joined, and we are looking at scaling that up.

“It is important that all NOCs have a qualified and trained Safeguarding Officer, and we are looking at potentially designing a Basic Safeguarding Course to be rolled out for National Federations.

“We could come into a region and do a five-day programme that would be for NOCs but primarily for National Federations.”

HRH Prince Feisal said; “We have identified where we are, identified that we need to develop the human resources that are capable of actually implementing a safeguarding policy and trained to do it.”

“It is possible to do more damage than good, despite the best of intentions to people who have suffered or been victimised, and we are looking at working it out so that safe sport and safeguarding is understood and practised day to day until it becomes routine.

“People know about it and want to talk about it – they recognise that policies and procedures that protect are not just for athletes, coaches, referees, but for everybody involved in the sporting community.”

The ONOC Gender Equity and Diversity Master Class

The ONOC Gender Equity and Diversity Master Class is the third part in a series that began in 2017 and had its second iteration in 2019. In 2018, Commission Chair, Helen Brownlee, led a series of three workshops in sub-regions of the Pacific; Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia, after which they were encouraged to select candidates to the Master Class in 2019. The current 2022 Master Class features candidates progressing in this development programme as gender champions in the Pacific Islands. Stories from participants will be part of this coverage.

This article has been adapted from the ONOC website.