1st ICESCO Forum “Women in Sport” Calls for Strengthening Women’s Leadership in Sport
11 February 2023
During their participation in the 1st ICESCO Forum “Women in Sport,” high-level officials and internationally renowned champions in various sports unanimously agreed on the importance of strengthening women’s participation in sports and encouraging girls to become leaders in this sector as it plays an important role in achieving social cohesion, combating violence and extremism and supporting vulnerable categories.
The Forum, held on Friday, February 10, 2023, at the headquarters of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) in Rabat, kicked off with a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran, followed by an opening address by Mrs. Ramata Almamy Mbaye, Head of ICESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector, in which she stated that the Forum aims at encouraging women’s participation, enhancing the role of women’s leadership in sport, promoting the exchange of experiences and highlighting the role of sport in social development, peacebuilding and the fight against all forms of violence.
The Forum’s opening session began with an address by Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director-General, in which he emphasized that enabling girls to participate in sports is a social responsibility, stressing that the Organization’s vision considers sport as a powerful tool for positive change and for building peace and security. He added that sport-related modules have been integrated into ICESCO’s “Peace 360” approach and the Youth and Women Leadership Training in Peace and Security Programme (LTIPS).
He also highlighted the huge participation in the first edition of ICESCO Marathon and commended the role of the Organization’s programme for the rehabilitation of children in vulnerable situations through relying on football in strengthening the protection of children, providing them with educational opportunities and combating violence.
The Director General concluded his address by announcing that ICESCO has dedicated an award to the most innovative and inclusive community sports initiatives, which aim to support research and awareness efforts in sports. He also expressed the Organization’s intention to launch its International Youth Sports Volunteer Program.
In his address, Dr. Chakib Benmoussa, Moroccan Minister of National Education, Preschool and Sports, stressed that sport is a cornerstone in building society and training productive individuals. He reviewed the efforts of the Kingdom in encouraging women’s sports activities.
For his part, Mr. Mustapha Messaoudi, Secretary General of the Department of Youth at the Moroccan Ministry of Youth, Culture and Communication, stressed that the Ministry works to increase the percentage of women’s participation in sport, to enhance their achievements in this field and to allow them to occupy leadership positions in sports federations.
In a recorded speech, Ms. Fatma Samoura, FIFA Secretary General, congratulated ICESCO for holding the Forum, stressing that sport contributes to overcoming barriers, building a more equal world and rehabilitating women at the physical, economic and social levels.
For her part, Ms. Thobi Etame Ndedi, Secretary General of CONFEJES, stressed in her address that the contribution of men is essential to the development of women’s sport, and called for the support of girls in practicing sport, while Mr. Massimiliano Montanari – CEO, International Center for Sport Security, reaffirmed in a recorded address that women’s sport has overcome several challenges, noting that the participation of women in leadership can create a safer sports environment.
In her address, Ms. Kanizat Ibrahim, Vice President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), called for reflection on how to support women in the field of sport in terms of practice, management and leadership.
Ms. Laura Stéphanie Georges, Secretary General of the French Football Federation (FFF), delivered a speech in which she commended the Forum, which was an opportunity to exchange views in support of women’s participation in sport, in the presence of inspiring women who have accomplished several athletic achievements.
Mr. Yankhoba Diattara, Senegalese Minister of Sports, in a speech delivered on his behalf by Ms. Coumba Senghor, Advisor to the Ministry, praised ICESCO’s Forum and stated that it will help support women in sport as a socio-economic lever. Similarly, Mr. Didier Drogba, former Ivorian international footballer, commended the Forum and reaffirmed the importance of sport in consolidating social cohesion and achieving sustainable development. He also stressed the need to train women and youth as builders of the future.
After the opening session, the first session started with a debate with the participation of Ms. Kanizat Ibrahim, CAF Vice President, Ms. Filomena Fortes, IOC member, President of the Cape Verdean National Olympic Committee, and Ms. Honey Thaljieh, FIFA Corporate Communication Manager, first captain of the Palestinian Women’s National Team, in addition to a group of young people. The participants discussed the exchange of experiences to enrich the intergenerational dialogue.
The second session focused on lessons learned from initiatives to encourage the contribution of women in sport, with the participation of Ms. Laura Stéphanie Georges, FFF Secretary General, Ms. Dina Musharraf, Egyptian international table tennis champion, and Ms. Miriam Walker-Khan, international sports journalist.
At the close of the Forum, ICESCO’s Director General called on the concerned stakeholders to work together for the development of women’s sports, underlining ICESCO’s support for these efforts and its full readiness to cooperate with all actors in order to achieve this goal.
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