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Other Winter Sports - 17. November 2012.

ICF Gender Equity Workshop a Success in St. Petersburg

The ICF Women’s Commission
yesterday held a workshop on gender equity in St. Petersburg, Russia. The
“Gender Equity Workshop” was held in conjunction with the ICF Congress.

Dr. Cecilia Farias, President of the Pan American Canoe Federation (COPAC)
and Workshop Leader,  kicked off the workshop by informing the participants
that progress to achieve gender equity in canoeing has been made by the ICF
over the past 2 years but more still needed to be done.

“The ICF is doing a good job since the last 2 years,” said Dr. Farias. “But
we look for equality not only in terms of equal number of categories and
events for women and men, but we also look for women in position of
decisions: women coaches, women officials, technical officials and

When ICF President and IOC Member Jose Perurena Lopez opened the workshop,
he reiterated the ICF’s commitment to achieving gender equity.

“I come here on the principle to show everybody present, that one of the
main goals for the ICF is equality for men and women, this is the first
thing,” said the President who also sits on the IOC Women’s Commission. “We
are tackling this going in three directions: one in competitions, second in
training women officials and third in having women in decision making bodies
in the ICF.

“In Rio the Board approved with overwhelming support, the motion to include
women in all committees created for the Rio Games.

“We now have 4 women on the Board and our statute says that we must have 1
woman in each technical committee. In Slalom we have already accomplished
this with 50/50 membership of men and women, and we hope that the others go
in that direction.”

The President mentioned what he had said at the Board Meeting held directly
before the Workshop that he is working very hard in discussions with the IOC
to ensure the inclusion of the Women’s Canoe category at the Rio 2016
Olympic Games.

Merklinger, progress has been made but more work ahead

The keynote address given by “Own the Podium” CEO Anne Merklinger (CAN), who
held the position of Director-General of CanoeKayak Canada for 15 years, was
very well received by an audience which constituted almost equal numbers of
male and female delegates attending the Congress.

In her opening remarks Merklinger said that a lot has changed since she
attended her first Congress at the ICF and was asked to get tea.

“It’s fair to say that I will share some bold thoughts with you today so I
encourage some of the leaders in the rooms to listen and reflect with an
open mind.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in the ICF in terms of gender
equity so I challenge you to continue to work hard as you have been.”

Merklinger concentrated her address on her belief in a values based approach
to achieving gender equity, why gender equity matters to organizations such
as the ICF and why diversity is a strength in most organizations. She also
discussed her assessment of the current status quo and some of the gaps, and
then some opportunities and risks, concluding with “a call to action.”

Case studies on NF gender equity initiatives presented

Following the keynote address, selected participants presented some case
studies of their experiences from working towards gender equity locally and

To fulfill one of the objectives of the workshop which was to ensure that
participants took away some tangible knowledge that they could implement
back in their home country, groups were formed and tasked with coming up
with solutions to some areas where gender equity did not prevail.

Groups of 4-6 participants tackled areas such as the lack of (enough) women
coaches in canoeing, women in decision making positions, increasing female
participation at events, changing the status quo in the sport etc. After
discussing the issues, the groups had to present their solutions to the
issues, timeline and a responsibility chart.

A moment was taken during the workshop to take a photo that was sent to
Chairwoman Helen Brownlee who was not present at the meeting, to show
support to her, as well as the high level of participation of both men and

A cocktail was hosted by the Women’s Commission to conclude a long day of
important meetings held by the ICF Board of Directors, Continental
Committees and Women’s Commission.
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