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Participants in the 5th IOC World Conference on Women and Sport called on sports leaders to take a more proactive role in advancing the cause of women in and through sport as the event came to a close in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday.
The three-day conference, whose theme was "Together Stronger: the Future of Sport," ended with over 800 delegates from 135 countries unanimously approving "The Los Angeles Declaration", a series of recommendations aimed at promoting gender equality in sport and using sport as a tool to improve the lives of women around the world.
The declaration focused on two main themes:
- The need to bring more women into management and leadership roles
- The need to increase collaboration and partnerships, especially with UN organisations, to promote gender equality.
IOC President Jacques Rogge assured the conference delegates that the Olympic Movement would act on the recommendations.
"I can pledge and I can promise that we will do what is needed", he said in his closing remarks.
The conference declaration acknowledged that the Olympic Movement's steady progress towards gender equality on the field of play had not been matched in sports leadership positions. It called for more resources to support women in sports leadership roles and urged sports organisations to follow the IOC's lead by adopting policies to advance gender equality.
On the issue of collaboration, conference delegates urged the IOC to build on its work with the United Nations by establishing closer partnerships with UN Women and the UN Committee on the Status of Women. UN Women was established in 2010 to promote gender equality and women's empowerment.
"The potential for sport to contribute to the social, economic and political empowerment of women and girls is clear and has been recognised by governments, the United Nations system, civil society, the sports movement and others. Now is the time to act on this recognition and bring the benefits of sport to women and girls", Lakshmi Puri, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, told the conference delegates.
Organised jointly by the IOC, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, the event covered a range of subjects associated with the efforts to strengthen women's representation both on the sports field and in leadership positions. The record number of delegates at this year's conference included well-known figures from the world of sport, as well as representatives of civil society, government and academia.
Other high-profile speakers at the conference included IOC Women and Sport Commission Chairperson Anita DeFrantz; Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Sebastian Coe; HE Marjon V. Kamara, Chair of the UN's Commission on the Status of Women; and Geena Davis, Academy Award-winning actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
The 2012 Women and Sport Awards were presented on the opening day of the conference, with India's Manisha Malhotra winning the World Trophy for her commitment to helping disadvantaged girls progress through sport. The five continental winners were Peninnah Aligawesa Kabenge (Africa), the Bradesco Sports and Education Progamme and Centre (Americas), Zaiton Othman (Asia), Aikaterini Nafplioti-Panagopoulos (Europe), and Roseline Blake (Oceania).
Held every four years, the aim of the World Conference on Women and Sport is to assess the progress made in advancing the cause of gender equality within the Olympic Movement and to define future priority actions to improve and increase the involvement of girls and women in this framework.
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