Paris, France; 08 March 2018: As the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day, the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) has launched an initiative to promote gender equality and help pave the way for greater female representation in sport governance.

Introduced at a special session in Paris on the eve of International Women’s Day, SIGA joined a global call to action to #PressForProgress on gender equality, by announcing the launch of a worldwide and action-orientated mentorship programme that will support and encourage future female leaders in sport to reach their potential.

The event brought together influential leaders in sports policy and governance from around the world. Entitled ‘Piercing the Gender Glass Ceiling’, the special session provided a platform to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the fight for gender equality in sport and included testimonies from a number of leading women, as well as men and organisations, who are calling for change and advancing gender equality in their respective fields.

Keynote speaker Angela Melo, Director Policies and Programmes at UNESCO, who spoke at the event, said:

“Good governance in sport and in international sport organisations must address gender equality and women’s rights, in sport as well as in society. Women and girls deserve equal rights and equal access to physical education, to sport competitions, to coaching positions, and to participation in decision-making of sport organizations and federations.

“To do so, the networks of women in sport must be strengthened, and they must be connected. UNESCO is proud to support SIGA’s initiative on gender equality in sport.”

Promoting gender equality in sport at all levels is a key priority of SIGA. The worldwide mentorship programme is a continuation of its mission to use collective action to drive reform and promote good governance in sport. It will match prominent female leaders in sport with promising future leaders to share expert knowledge, insight and experiences and help them develop their leadership skills.

The first 11 women mentors named to take part in the programme are:

Anne-Laure Bonnet, Journalist, BeIN Sports

Patricia Costantini – Founder, Egalsport

Ebru Köksal – UEFA Consultant & Senior Advisor at J. Stern & Co

Annette Knott – Secretary General of the Trinidad & Tobago National Olympic Committee

Jane Lute – President and CEO of the Council on Cyber Security and former US Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security

Angela Melo – Director Policies and Programmes at UNESCO

Patricia Moyersoen – Lawyer, President of the Association of International Football Lawyers & Member of Women in Sports Law

Ling-Ling Nie – Chief Compliance Officer & Assistant General Counsel, Panasonic

Shellie Pfohl – CEO Safe Sport USA and former Executive Director of the United States President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition

Katie Simmonds – Director of Sports Governance and Financial Integrity, ICSS INSIGHT & SIGA Team

Karen Webb Moss – ICSS Executive Director Strategy and Communications, former IOC Vice President of Image & Marketing Communications

Patricia Moyersoen, President of the Association of International Football Lawyers & Member of Women in Sports Law, said:

“SIGA is right in considering that better governance in sport means having more women in governing bodies. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to pierce the glass ceiling which hinders women’s access to leadership positions both in the sport’s governing bodies and in the clubs. Many women in the world are highly qualified in sports law, but have very little presence in governing bodies. That’s why Women in Sports Law is very pleased to be part of SIGA’s efforts to break through this glass ceiling and partner with its mentoring program.”

As part of its commitments to enhance sports governance standards worldwide, SIGA is also asking all of its members, and the wider public, to sign a declaration, available on the SIGA website, to demonstrate their commitment to promoting gender balance, respect, equality, diversity and inclusion, as highlighted in SIGA’s Core Principles on Sport Integrity and Universal Standards on Good Governance in Sport.

SIGA CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros said:

“On International Women’s Day, SIGA stands united with all those who support equal opportunities in sport as part of a best practice approach to governance. We are determined to advance the highest levels of good governance in sport, underpinned by the principles of diversity, inclusion and equality.

“Achieving greater gender balance in sport is vital. This is an integral part of good governance in sport, and is vital for the ongoing growth and development of the industry. We trust our worldwide mentorship programme, led by exceptional female mentors, will help address some of the imbalance presently found in sport and inspire the future generations of female leaders.”

Other speakers present in Paris for the event included:

Moya Dodd – Former Vice-Captain of the Australia Women’s National Team (The Matildas) and a former Executive Committee Member of FIFA

Paola Ottonello, Policy Officer for Gender Equality in Sport, European Commission

Mohammed Hanzab, Chairman, ICSS / Vice-Chairman of SIGA Council

Claire Furlong, General Manager, Strategic Communications, International Cricket Council

Manon Fiorot, Athlete and World Champion, French Mixed Martial Arts Federation

Arnaud Richard, President, French National Olympic Academy

Densign White, Chief Executive Officer, International Mixed Martial Arts Federation

Sonia Souid, Football Agent, Essentially Group, CSM Sport and Entertainment

Frédéric Thiry, Senior Vice President, Business Ethics and Compliance, ADIT / SIGA Council Member