From November 14th to 17th 2022, the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport took place live in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and virtually for those joining from afar. IWG stands for the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport and is the world’s largest network dedicated to advancing gender equity and equality in sport, physical education and physical activity.

The IWG is fully aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and since its establishment in 1994, advocates and runs programmes globally year-round. The IWG created and today is the guardian of the Brighton plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration, which has nearly 600 signatories. IWG conferences, which take place every four years, bring together sector leaders from around the world. The 8th conference in New Zealand engaged more than 1,200 attendees and an online audience of more than 500 people. It was also the first conference to launch an Insight Hub – an interactive collection of research, case studies, toolkits and news contributed from all over the world on specific topics around women in sport.

The symposium and the festival were spaces in which the different international female soccer players could move and exchange as freely and safely as possible. In addition to the football tournament, the festival offered workshops and various opportunities to exchange for the participants. The public part consisted of the tournament games, concerts, panel discussions, open-air cinema and public viewing of the World Cup games from Australia and New Zealand.In terms of key outputs, the 8th conference included more than 220 sessions which revolved around the following key themes:

  • Leadership: empowering women to lead systems change
  • Social change: championing social movements and experiences
  • Active lives: enabling the enjoyment of active lives
  • High performance: supporting women to excel at the highest global levels
  • Visibility and voice: growing the value of influence of women and girls

Discover Football representatives took part in the four-day conference, representing the organization and its approach to strengthening women in and through football by leading two workshops and designing and presenting a poster explaining how and why DF is committed to an alternative model of a football festival and cultural event.

In the first of the two workshops, Discover Football joined Maureen Ebob-Besong who represented the International Olympic Committee presenting on the work of Olympism365 and Sallie Nnamani who represented Peaceplayers International in a workshop on dismantling inequities for girls and women in sport. The second workshop led by Discover Football: Major sporting events: how can they be leveraged to promote human rights and access to sport at the grassroots level explored how the organization has managed to leverage resources and visibility around sporting events to design and lead local women-led football festivals which combine football, women’s and girl’s rights and other key social topics. One of the Discover Football representatives, Aya Noguchi, spoke about how transferring her experience and learnings as a coach in the 2015 Discover Football festival led her to co-funding a social organization in Japan which works towards creating a gender equitable, safe and inclusive space for all to enjoy football.

Both workshops were designed and led to be practice oriented, engaging and interactive with both the in-person and virtual audiences. In total, over 50 workshop participants learned about Discover Football’s approach through case studies, learnings and good practices. It was important for DF to not only share with a diverse audience of practitioners, academics, sport leaders from around the world but to also learn from others and exchange through the various workshops and virtual platform. The conference sparked an even stronger momentum to partner with others, continue to learn and exchange and support others in and beyond the network and to also do our part to invest energy, time and resources into the conference calls to action:

  • Put women, in all their diversity, at the heart of decision-making in every facet of sport and active recreation
  • Develop gender equity policy and investment focused on women coaches and officials at all levels
  • Normalise the inclusion of young voices
  • Encourage male allies to listen, speak out and act! Being silent is being complicit
  • Ensure safeguarding is embodied within the psyche of sport, from grassroots to elite
  • Collectively mobilise a movement in sport to eliminate discrimination against women and girls and provide a sense of belonging for all
  • Create safe spaces to have conversations about gender identity to ensure everyone has access to sport and physical activity
  • The time for climate change is yesterday – every small action you take adds up globally to make a difference
  • Make well-being the foundation of all sport and physical activity. Keep that foundation strong
  • If it’s about me – include me! Bring athletes to the decision-making table
  • Deliver the same opportunities and resources for women as men, including pay equity
  • Showcase diverse sports role models in the media, challenging attitudes, and stereotypes
  • Schedule women’s sports events in prime-time broadcasting slots
  • Innovate the coverage of women’s sport (beyond traditional media) 
The participation of DISCOVER FOOTBALL at the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport 2022 was financed by the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community.