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SAOC chief affirms sports initiatives contribute to empowering women 1st International Gender Equity and Women Leadership Forum concludes
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 11 - 2020

The first virtual international forum of its kind hosted by the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee (SAOC) and organized by the World Taekwondo (WT) in cooperation with the Saudi Taekwondo Federation (STF) and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation was launched Friday for two days, under the title "Gender Equity and Women Leadership Forum."
The event which ran from Nov. 27-28 attracted more than 120,000 views on SAOC social media outlets throughout both days.
SAOC President Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal said in his speech at the opening of the conference that it is necessary to include sports in recovery plans against the various crises that the world faces. He added sports had shown the diversity of benefits and contributions that could be offered to human societies.
Prince Abdulaziz also affirmed that sports would be a compelling way to bring social progress and development in the Kingdom under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince according to the plans of the Kingdom's Vision 2030.
He added that the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee launched many sports initiatives that have contributed to empowering women to lead, and help many girls to achieve their dreams to become champion athletes.
The SAOC chief explained that they started from scratch in 2015. "We now have more than 25 federations that have women's national teams, and 30 federations have at least one woman holding the position of director of a board of directors, in addition to registering more than 2,400 players in various federations. And a more than 25% increase in women's participation in public games" he said.
The International Olympic Committee President Dr Thomas Bach said that the Olympic community has one goal, which is to make the world a better place through sport, stressing that the International Olympic Committee is always keen to achieve gender equality in sport.
Bach stressed that despite the many initiatives that reach the IOC through professional training programs for athletes to ensure the rigor of rules and referees, the conference represents evidence, leadership and a spirit of innovation to enhance the role of women in sporting societies.
Meanwhile, Dr Bach praised the role that the SAOC plays in promoting and empowering the role of women in sports according to the mission of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 to build a healthy and vibrant society.
He also expressed his happiness with the existing cooperation between the International Olympic Committee and its Saudi counterpart and the ITF to achieve the message Olympic is making the world better through sport.
The World Taekwondo President Dr. Chung Won Choue said that based on the fact that WT is the sole body that runs the sport of Taekwondo in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, it is necessary to use this feature to develop gender equality and lead women in sports and education, stressing that next year they will launch a strategy for comprehensive sustainability 2021-2030, which seeks to achieve the United Nations recommendations for gender equality.
Dr. Chung also noted the recent development of women's sports in the Kingdom and this included the Saudi female taekwondo players who won nine international medals. Moreover, the presence of more than ten players in the Saudi Taekwondo national team and the adoption of 15 referees for the game from the female cadre.
He indicated that the Kingdom would organize the first open women's taekwondo championship next February, which confirms SAOC's determination to support equal opportunities for both genders through sport.
In the second day, which included seven sessions with the participation of important female leaders such as Adwaa Al-Arifi, board member at SAOC, who talked during the "Women Leaders in Sports Organizations" session about her sports journey which began with small dreams of practising sports with her friends, after that, she established the first Saudi women's sports team in the Kingdom in 2006, with the participation of many Saudi women.
She pointed out that the Kingdom, through Vision 2030, is paving the way for many girls to achieve their ambitions, whether on the athletic or personal level.
In the session of "My Experience with Taekwondo", a member of the Athletes Commission at the IOC, Miriam Pavril, said that she had practised many different sports starting at the age of six, and had been training for four hours a day when she was 15 years old. This she added helped her to become an Olympic champion later in her life.
Dr. John Cullen, director of broadcasting at the World Taekwondo, confirmed that the IOC directives emphasized that there should be equal media coverage between the genders during and after the competitions, in addition to equality in employment, salaries and practical opportunities granted to athletes after retirement.
Meanwhile, In the "Taekwondo Paralympic Athletes" session, Lisa Gjinseng said that in her transformation from being an Olympic athlete to a Paralympic athlete, her ambition did not stop with her hand gone, but she continued her passion for sports until she ended up becoming the four-time World Taekwondo Paralympic Champion.
Sarah Stephenson, chair of the Sports for All Committee of the World Taekwondo, said in the session of "Empowering Women in the International Taekwondo Federation" that the game was not successful in the United Kingdom in the eighties and nineties. However, she added, with training, continuous development and patience; She became the first British Taekwondo champion at the age of 18 to win an Olympic medal. — SG

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