A debate on gender equality took place in New York City ©IOC

An International Olympic Committee (IOC) official has called for women to be "proportionally represented" in all sporting organisations as well as in coaching and refereeing and sport itself.

IOC strategic communications director Rebecca Lowell Edwards made the call during a panel discussion on gender equality at the 62nd Session of the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women in New York City.

She spoke in a debate entitled "Racing Towards Gender Equality: The Media's Portrayal of Women Athletes and Its Effects on Women's Participation in Sports" at the Diplomat Ballroom in the Millennium Hotel.

"We are all here to change the conversation about women in sport," Lowell Edwards said. 

"We cannot truly be 'Faster, Higher, Stronger' when half of us are not proportionally represented on the playing field, in an official uniform, in commissions and federations, or with a coach's whistle. 

"We know progress will take a true team effort, and that's why we joined together today with wonderful partners, each with a superb track record of empowering women and girls around the world."

Lowell Edwards spoke alongside speakers such as two-time Olympic swimming gold medallist Donna de Varona, a member of the IOC Women and Sport Commission, and Olympic bronze medal winning figure skater Maia Shibutani.

Khetsiwe Dlamini, the chief of staff and acting director of strategic partnerships at UN Women, was another speaker.

The report follows the publishing of 25 recommendations by the IOC for boosting gender equality in sport.

The proposals, published to coincide with International Women's Day last week, concerned the governance of sport as well as both elite and lower level participation.

It included a pledge to ensure "full gender equality in athlete quotas and medal events for both genders from the Olympic Games 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games 2026 onwards".

Women will make up 48.8 per cent of the athletes at Tokyo 2020.

Other topics included equal prize money and ensuring higher numbers of female administrators.

"This discussion has been happening for a very long time and now is the time to act," said de Varona. 

"We need a platform that drives this agenda, and the Olympic Movement is filling that void today. 

"We've done great in the field of play, but need to do the same in leadership and decision-making."

Dlamini added that they are targeting full equality by 2030.

"We want to see Planet 50-50 - a gender-equal world - by 2030, which is the target date for the sustainable development goals," she said. 

"The race to gender equality by 2030 is enabled by sport. 

"It's a race against poverty, hunger, lack of access to health, education and leadership, it's a race toward gender equality. 

"It's urgent that we finish the race, this means equal opportunities to play, equal pay, and equal representation of women and girls in sport. 

"With the IOC, we make an unstoppable team.”

Four of the 15 IOC Executive Board members are currently female and 24 of the 100 IOC members, although this does include 14 of the 28 to have arrived since Thomas Bach became President in 2013. 

There are just two female Presidents among the 33 Summer and seven Winter Olympic International Federations and only four at the top of the 50 European National Olympic Committees.

Similar disparities exist in other areas such as sports journalism.