Strategising for Gender Equality Data in PE, Physical Activity and Sport

On Monday, November 27, and Tuesday, November 28, 2023, the Global Observatory on Gender Equality in Sport (GOGES) in partnership with UNESCO hosted a working meeting at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The event brought together over fifteen key stakeholders from international organizations, NGOs, and academia, all dedicated to addressing gender equality in sports. 

The meeting, structured into several sessions over two days, commenced with a review of the circumstances leading to the Global Observatory’s establishment. It also reiterated its objectives and planned course of action. The stakeholders were also informed of the newly updated organisational statutes of the GO that provide for establishment of a Board with broader stakeholder representation and other advisory bodies to support the structure and mission of the GO in its development phase. 

Participants engaged in collaborative discussions, focusing on developing shared metrics and the critical need to monitor progress in gender equality, the empowerment of girls and women, and the promotion of physical education, physical activity, and sports. 

The meeting enabled stakeholder contributions to the GO`s strategy for data and research leading to the formulation of a priority set of areas to track and monitor, confirmation of the content for the GO`s proposed digital knowledge platform, and commitments of stakeholders to collaborate with and support the work of the GO. Deliberations also highlighted the key role of the GO as a member of the UNESCO Fit for Life Alliance. The meeting further elaborated and agreed a set of principles to guide the work of the GO, these include the principles contained in the Inclusive Data Charter. This provides a frame for the GO and their stakeholders to develop and engage with data and research based on principles including transparency, feasibility, and intersectionality among others.

The two days were marked by interactive discussions among attendees. These discussions, spanning both formal sessions and informal breaks, were instrumental in comparing diverse approaches and pinpointing implementable solutions. They meeting brought together perspectives of UN organisations, academia, intergovernmental bodies, activist organisations and sport governance lead actors.  

Meeting delegates included: WHO, UNHCHR, African Union Sports Council, Commonwealth Secretariat, International Olympic Committee, Hertfordshire University, Norwegian Institute of Sport, Seijo University, Loughborough University, University of Lausanne, Women Win, International Working Group on Women and Sport, TAFISA, Women Sport International, with remote contributions from the Council of Europe.

The meeting interactions served to build new and strengthen existing connections among the various institutions, highlighting the pivotal role of the Global Observatory as a facilitator and leader in research, engagement, and empowerment in the field of gender equality in sport.  

The event also included a reception hosted by the Swiss Confederation Permanent Delegation to UNESCO in Paris to which private sector and government representatives in Paris were invited to interact with the meeting delegates also present at the event was the Canton of Vaud, who are part of the GO Incubating Association. Across the two days, key remarks were presented by UNESCO, the Swiss Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, and the Mayor of Lausanne noting the work that is yet to be achieved towards gender equality in sport, highlighting the significance of the GO in interventions and expressing political, resource, and strategic commitment to support the GO development and mission. 

We are in 2023, but we have to admit that the fundamental right to physical  education,  physical  activity and  sport  without  discrimination is still being denied to many women and girls around the world. Now is the time to step up the efforts. We need to join hands and resources, across countries, regions, issues, programmes, and organisations including with the private sector, while ensuring that the communities we serve are at the center.  

Ambassador Muriel Berset Kohen , Swiss Confederation Permanent Delegation to UNESCO

The Global Observatory is a valued part of UNESCO’s broader sport and gender equality strategy, complementing advances within government ministries and in civil society by enhancing the research-policy nexus, a role that remains critical today.

Mr. Philipp Muller-Wirth, UNESCO Chief of Section for Sport

I am truly convinced that the Global Observatory will succeed in its various missions, one of which is being a repository of strategic information, research and expertise on gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in and through sport, physical education, and physical activity. The creation of a global repository and the establishment of a comprehensive measurement framework are crucial milestones for advancing gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women in Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport.

Dr. Lucie Schoch, University of Lausanne, Global Observatory Founding Committee 

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