A two-day Women in Sport Media Workshop hosted by the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) in Doha, drew to a close here today with the production of the “Doha call to action", illustrating participants commitment to leading change in the media’s portrayal of women in sport.
Run in cooperation with International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and coinciding with the Doha Diamond League athletics meeting in the Qatari capital, the workshop saw 113 representatives from the IOC, National Olympic Committees (NOC) and the media from across Asia, Africa and Oceania participate in a series of panel session and interactive discussions.
Topics addressed at the workshop, which aimed to raise awareness of the role of the media in advancing gender equality in sport, included the coverage of women’s events, the promotion of leadership of women through the media and the role men can play in helping to achieve gender equality.
Ahlam Al-Mana, President of the Qatar Women’s Sport Committee (QWSC) and recipient of the 2013 IOC Women and Sport Award World Trophy, outlined the achievements of the QWSC in promoting gender equality in sport in Qatar and the importance of positive female role models in her keynote speech.
Tomas Sithole, secretary general of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), IOC Head of Olympic Games Media Operations Anthony Edgar and secretary general of the Association of International Sports Press (AIPS), Evelyn Watta, were among those to give speeches at the workshop.
Following the conclusion of the workshop Al-Mana reflected on the importance of holding such an event.
“Whilst progress has been made over the years in bringing attention to gender equality in sport, greater effort by all involved is clearly needed,” she said.
“This workshop really brought to light the factors and challenges that we all face in increasing coverage of women in sport and in just two days in Doha, significant strides were made by a movement focussed on change.
“It is clear that the Olympic family, the business world, key decision-makers and the media need to work together, take concerted and relentless action and be champions for women in sport in order to speed gender equality.”
One of the key calls to action established by the close of the workshop was that the IOC, Continental Associations and NOCs should be encouraged to promote media training which raising awareness the importance of promoting gender equality, focusing on achievements rather than appearance, while regular research into the media’s coverage of women’s events to drive change away from the stereotypical portrayal of women.
Following a panel discussion led by Watta into the lack of female journalists working in sport media and obstacles faced by those in the industry, the delegates recommended establishing a minimum target of women’s presence in Executive Committees of National Sports Press Associations (NSPA) by the AIPS, whilst increasing sport coverage by the creation and revival of NSPAs by the AIPS.
Mariam Farid, a promising young Qatari hurdler, attended the panel session and reflected on her experience as an Ambassador for Doha’s successful bid for the 2019 World Athletics Championships as an important step in her bid to become Qatar’s first female sports presenter following her athletics career.
“I did my first interviews, went on TV for the first time, recorded messages to camera and learnt how the media works,” Farid said.
“It was really interesting to see how the media raised my profile and also raised the profile of women’s sport in Qatar and in the region.
“I was so proud to be play a part in shining a spotlight on women’s athletics in Qatar and show how hosting international sports events in Qatar can assist with developing women’s sport.”
The “call to action” also reflected on shift in media from traditional print to online mediums, while delegates called upon the ANOC to table the recommendations of the workshop to NOCs at the forthcoming ANOC General Assembly in Washington later this year.
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