The International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport is the world’s largest network dedicated to advancing gender equity and equality in sport, physical education, and physical activity, and in November 2022, the 2018-2022 Quadrennial IWG Conference was hosted in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Our CEO Liz Masen, attended and presented at the conference as part of a panel, while the rest of our team eagerly tuned in virtually. When our team reflected on the event, it was clear we each had our own personal takeaways as well as some collective agreements and standouts as we’ve highlighted in our recaps below.
CEO, Liz Masen:
“It is genuinely a challenge to pick just one key highlight from conference. From being inspired by the presentations, I also greatly valued the opportunity to network with phenomenal women from around the globe who are so passionate about developing sport for women and girls and are truly taking action to create change, and the informal catch ups and conversations with long-time friends in the industry and new acquaintances. My personal highlight was presenting alongside Dr. Etsuko Ogasawara and Dr. Natsue Koikawa in sharing our experiences in delivering women coaches academies in Japan and the USA. Unfortunately, Dr. Nicole LaVoi was unable to join us at the very last minute due to her plane not taking off (literally the flight was cancelled while she sat on the tarmac).”
The conference’s framework and 2022 theme of ‘Change Inspires Change’, provided this exciting opportunity for Liz to present alongside Dr. Nicole M. LaVoi, Director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, Dr. Etsuko Ogasawara, Executive Director of the Japanese Center for Research on Women in Sport and Professor of Sport Management at Juntendo University, and Dr. Natsue Koikawa, Professor and Coach at Juntendo University. Their presentation titled ‘The Value of and ‘How-To’ of Women Only Coach Education: Learnings from the USA & Japan’. It was an interactive Q&A specifically tailored to the audience, where the panel shared experiences, relevant data, and practical advice from the learnings and findings from years of collaboration through the common ground shared by the three organizations for women’s coach development.
“My inspirational highlight was Arizona Leger presenting on the last day which was dedicated to the future of IWG. It is hard to put into words the impact she had as she shared her family’s story, particularly the impact of the women, important cultural significances, political statements, and her own personal and career path to bring her to her most recent role of Content and Communications Specialist for the 2021 Rugby World Cup. What was most inspiring was at the end of her presentation, the elders who had attended the entire conference, stood up and did the Haka to honor her, to which she stood proudly to receive and then finished in unison with them. It still brings tears to my eyes to recall this incredibly respectful moment to have witnesses.”
Client Success Manager, Danielle Souness:
“Reflecting on the IWG Conference, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing from the large variety of speakers and diving deeper into the five contemporary themes, relating to the issues currently being faced by Women and Sport. Each guest speaker focused on making their presentation interactive and relevant to the audience, and it was wonderful to hear them draw upon and share their wide breadth of personal experiences, knowledge, and insights. Personally, I found the conference empowering and inspiring, as it provided me the opportunity to challenge my own way of thinking. I appreciated the conference being offered in a hybrid model, giving those that are unable to attend in-person the opportunity to be involved and benefit from global leaders. Although being involved virtually, you felt connected to the speakers through the common ground and passion shared for inspiring change and advancing gender equality.”
Client Experience Manager, Rebekah Box:
“It’s hard to choose one highlight from the conference, as there wasn’t a session I tuned into that didn’t inspire, challenge, or empower me. Though I think for me, the true standout was having the opportunity to learn through the lens of Māori culture as the conference progressed through Te Haerenga (the journey) of the four related Māori whakataukī (proverbs), Landing, Wonderment, Meaning, and Launching. There is so much I’ve taken away from the sessions, particularly, the thought-provoking discussions and insights shared on the final day of the conference, Launching, were truly inspiring as the women presented on building the future of sport for women and seeing the potential of what it can look like.”
Marketing & Graphic Design Assistant, Kate von Euw
“One of the sessions that was a standout for me was the ‘Inspiring Insights’ presentation, where Casey Legler discussed the importance of athlete wellbeing, reflecting on her experiences as a teenage Olympian and the societal challenges she faced as a high-performance athlete. It’s crazy to think that by the age of 14, girls will drop out of sports at two times the rate of boys. This is due to a variety of factors such as lack of access and transportation, cost, decreased quality of experience (i.e., facilities aren’t as good as the ones for males), and social stigma. Casey’s session was both confronting and inspiring, serving as yet another reminder of the need for better wellbeing support for high-performing female athletes.”
Academic Client Manager, Temika Smith
“I was inspired by the diverse community assembled and the variety of research and wisdom that they shared, and was touched by one of the key themes throughout the conference about creating safe spaces for girls and women to have honest, open conversations, ensuring that they have a sense of belonging in sport, and the importance of education for both girls and boys. This went hand in hand with one of the other key themes – male allyship and the need for more male allies. Finally, I was in awe of the authenticity of the presenters across the conference and the inclusion of speakers in both Māori and English.”