By Cecilia Farias
United World Wrestling understands that Gender equality is a governance issue, and therefore works on the involvement of leaders, both men and women, towards a more gender equitable sport. I was honoured with the invitation to be a key note speaker at this event, which had the participation of 26 women from 19 countries. I shared my knowledge and experience, and in particular some of the issues that, as a women, I faced first as an athlete and then as a woman in positions of decisions.
It was not a surprise to recognise the reactions of the women at the audience, as many have experienced similar situations while they were athletes or were advancing their sport officer’s career.
It is curious to recognise certain sense of pudor on women at the moment of promoting their access to positions of decision, as if the sole promotion of women that they should do would be the one of the women athletes. We can and we should promote girls and women athletes, coaches, judges, administrators, event organisers, journalists, medical and paramedical and in general, all the roles on which a competent woman can find the way to serve to the sport community.
Why women should strive to be in positions of decision? Because a proper balance of participation of women and men has not been reached, and therefore we are not benefiting of the best contribution that gender equity can bring.
Equity and equality had been a choice at the moment of speaking about opportunities for both genders. Personally, I have chosen equity as reference to what is fair, what is just, rather that equality more oriented as equal quantity. Fortunately nowadays the women that have access to education and information understand better the undeniable women rights. Many of us embrace with passion the cause of the women rights.
All sort of advices can be given to a woman that wants to occupy a position at a Board of Directors or an Executive Committee of any sport body; but I believe that we all have to follow our own instinct finding the position on which one we can fully serve the sport. To do that, women have to educate themselves and prepare for the multiple tasks that the current times demand if we want to be at the top.
Women have to run for elections and work for winning the positions that want.That is not so easy, it requires courage and self determination. Women can and should excel for their good work which is never possible without the support and cooperation of our male counterparts in sport, in society and basically in the life.
Once we defeat prejudices, visible and invisible barriers, there is still one more hurdle, that being the finacial support.
Women with responsibilities at the international level have to travel and not all the organisations that benefit from their incorporation allocate a budget for that purpose, aborting in this way the completion of their duties.
There is lot of work to be done and plenty of experiences to share, and to conclude I would like to share with you the words that shared with Unites World Wrestling women: “Competent, honest and brave women make the change possible.