Drag the slide to your desktop for a larger version. Source: WomenCan International.
Tom hall | Sportscene - It’s no secret that the International Canoe Federation has a gender equity problem. Women are underrepresented both on the water and in the board room. At the ICF board, women account for just three of the 29 spots, and on the water women are still fighting for equality.
Gender equity on the water has been promised to the International Olympic Committee by 2024. The details haven’t been finalized, but whether in canoes or kayaks, there will be an equal number of men and women competing in 2024. However it seems like little is changing at the ICF board level and with no women on the ICF executive (Helen Brownlee is the ICF Women Committee Chair), there is no doubt the ICF has a lot of work to do in terms of gender equity.
Rob van Bommel, Sportscene editor, interviewed Dr. Cecilia Farias, president of the Panamerican Canoe Federation (COPAC) and one of three female ICF board members, by email to find out what she thought of the situation.
Why do you think it's like this?
I believe that this is the result of a late modernization.
We should examine the path a women that intends to occupy important positions has to follow: first at their clubs and then at their National Federations. The National Federations can and should promote more women in the political arena of the sport. The situations that may happen within an International Federation could be a reflection of what happens within the NFs. There are NFs with many women involved, but critically, they may not have the role of a decision maker.
We, women, keep proving our capabilities and competencies, but despite that, we are not sufficiently promoted by our peers. That said, in sport some men mentor capable and responsible women who work close to them and help them get to positions where they can make change. My mentor was Mr. Charles Yatman, Honorary President of COPAC.
Should something be done about this?
Something must be done.
The ICF statutes incorporated the cooptation process upon the initiative of the ICF Women Commission, which developed the text of such regulation. The cooptation as you know is used by the IOC and proved to be a valid tool for the incorporation of value to the Boards.
A couple of years ago, I proposed to analyze the cooptation of women within the ICF and I am happy to say that my women colleagues understood and accepted that format. But, some years ago we were 6 women at the Board, now we are 3. Women and men have to be recognized and encouraged on their voluntary jobs and given equal opportunities simply because it is fair. It is justice.
If so what could be done in order to improve this situation?
The Women of the board are kindly and respectfully being invited to participate on a rotational basis at the ICF executive meetings. But this system does not allow for women to be part of the decision making process. I believe that it is time for the implementation of the regulations that I referred to on the paragraph above.
Anything else you’d like to share about the topic, or your role as role-model for women in the ICF?
I know that my advocacy for girls and women rights goes beyond sport, and I am convinced that I have to keep working on that. I have the joy of being the voice of the ones with no voice, and that’s where the importance of women in positions of power really lies. Women advocate for women AND FOR MEN! We, women, advocate for gender equity.
As an additional note I would like to say that, we’ve had a major achievement recently for the women athletes of the American Continent. They, and all of us, will enjoy the inclusion of the Sprint and Slalom Women Canoe events into the Programme of the Pan American Games in Toronto 2015. It’s the second largest Games after the Games of the Olympiad. There we will also have Slalom events in the official programme for the first time ever. I think we can all be proud of these achievements.
I would like to inform you that, upon appointment of the ICF, I have received the IOC Women and Sport Achievement Diploma (2014); which recognizes “outstanding contribution to promoting the development and participation of women and girls in sport."
I also received the same diploma in 2008 upon appointment of the Pan American Canoe Federation when I was its Secretary General.
That said only in order to encourage women to persist on their careers as sport leaders.