International Women´s Day: A recap of the IBU´s journey toward gender equality

Throughout its evolution, women have been instrumental in shaping the path of biathlon. However, despite their pivotal role, disparities persist in leadership positions across various facets of the biathlon community. From Executive Boards to Technical Committees and beyond, female representation remains lacking — a challenge that the IBU is actively addressing.

IBU President, Olle Dahlin notes:

International Women’s Day is an important occasion to celebrate the invaluable contribution women make to biathlon both on and off the snow. While the IBU is proud of the advancements we have made in promoting gender equality, we recognise we have a collective responsibility to do more to inspire inclusion. We are at our strongest when we embrace the diversity of membership and ensure women and men have equal access and opportunities at every level of our sport.

The International Women's Day 2024 provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on IBU's journey towards gender equality in the dynamic world of biathlon:

  • In 2019, the IBU held its first Gender Equality Seminar in Warsaw, Poland, marking a significant step in promoting inclusion within the sport of biathlon. This seminar laid the groundwork for future initiatives aimed at addressing gender disparity within the biathlon community.

  • In 2021, the IBU further solidified its commitment to gender equality by publishing its Gender Equality Strategy and Policy. This document outlines the organisation's objectives and plan to ensure equal opportunities for all participants, regardless of gender.

  • Also in 2021, the IBU staged the first Unconscious Bias Seminar for National Federations, highlighting the importance of recognising and addressing unconscious biases that may affect decision-making processes within the sport.

  • Since 2021, the IBU has appointed Gender Equality Athlete Ambassadors to serve as advocates for inclusion and diversity within the biathlon community. These ambassadors play a crucial role in promoting gender equality initiatives and fostering a more inclusive environment for all athletes.

  • Furthermore, the IBU has integrated gender equality projects into its Development Support Program, allocating a dedicated budget to support initiatives aimed at promoting gender parity within the sport.

  • In 2022, the IBU, in collaboration with the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF), organised the Gender Equity Forum in Munich, Germany. This forum provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss and address gender-related challenges within winter sports.

  • The IBU also ran Mentorship Programs in 2022 and 2023/2024, providing support and guidance to aspiring female leaders within the biathlon community. As part of its ongoing efforts to increase female representation, the IBU aims to achieve 30% female representation in key decision-making bodies, such as the Executive Board and Technical Committee.

  • At the 15th ordinary IBU Congress 2022, a 30% female representation was realised in both the Executive Board and Technical Committee, including the Athlete representatives.

EB member Nathalie Santer shared her thoughts:

By setting a rule that requires a certain number of females on the board, simply making it more diverse, sports organisations can make leadership more fair and inclusive. This is important because it reflects the values of our society, improves how the organisation works, and shows a good example for the whole sports community.

  • Additionally, the IBU has seen a significant increase in the number of female Technical Delegates, from 7% in 2021 to 20% in 2024, with a 30% quota for upcoming Technical Delegate exams in May 2024.

TC Member, Ulrika Öberg commented:

We have so many good women working in biathlon but we need to take care of them, give them the possibility to work in leading positions and trust them because they are doing a great job.

  • The Breaking Boundaries campaign, initiated by the IBU, aims to challenge traditional gender norms and stereotypes within the sport of biathlon, promoting a more inclusive and diverse environment for all participants.

  • As of March 2024, 44% of coaches in the IBU Academy's Coach Education programme are female, with specific modules addressing female specificity in training.

Looking ahead, the IBU will continue its efforts to promote gender equality, with upcoming initiatives such as the Unconscious Bias Workshop 2.0 in April 2024 (National Federations can register here) and the IBU Coach Webinar focusing on female athletes in May 2024. These initiatives underscore the IBU's unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable environment for all biathlon participants.

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