GB Taekwondo held a gender equality breakfast during the 2019 Taekwondo World Championships ©ITG

GB Taekwondo held a gender equality breakfast in collaboration with UK Sport during the World Championships here to encourage an increase of female representation in coaching, administration and media.

Attendees listened to a talk from UK Sport chair and five-time Olympic rowing medallist Katherine Grainger and British Taekwondo President and Olympic medallist Sarah Stevenson. 

Germany's former taekwondo Olympian Helena Stanek discussed her experience of working in the media, while British Taekwondo national poomsae coach Gemma Bieskas spoke about what she had encountered as a woman in coaching.

Tokyo 2020 manager Maris Naganeo and British Para taekwondo world champion Amy Trusdale also shared their stories.

Those in attendance were encouraged to make notes on each speaker's contribution, with the notes to be collated, synthesised and made into a mission statement for full gender equality in the areas listed above. 

The mission statement will be shared with GB Taekwondo, World Taekwondo, UK Sport and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

A working group of "gender champions" will also be formed, who will organise 50-50 for 2020 initiatives for all major World Taekwondo events.

UK Sport chair and four-time Olympic rowing medallist Katherine Grainger spoke at the gender equality breakfast ©Getty Images
UK Sport chair and four-time Olympic rowing medallist Katherine Grainger spoke at the gender equality breakfast ©Getty Images

Stevenson won Britain's first Olympic medal in taekwondo, taking bronze at Beijing 2008.

She also is a two-time world champion, triumphing in 2001 and 2011. 

Stevenson, who retired in 2013, spoke candidly to insidethegames about the motivation to organise the event. 

“Being the President of British Taekwondo, I have to go to events and represent my country," she said.

"If there is a room of 50 men, there are probably only about two women and that is the ratio I’m working with.

“For me, it’s to walk into that room and be able to feel comfortable enough to have my voice heard.

“There are many different reasons as to why I don’t feel comfortable.

“It might be my perception, it might be that the males that are in the room have been there for 30 or 40 years and don’t know how to speak to me, or just don’t understand how I feel.

“We have a great nation of taekwondo athletes and coaches, and we are a growing national governing body. 

“I want to go to an event with something to say and help my organisation.

“At the moment I might not feel comfortable or confident enough to do that and the ultimate goal is to change this for women.”

British Taekwondo President Sarah Stevenson won her country's first Olympic medal in taekwondo at Beijing 2008 ©Getty Images
British Taekwondo President Sarah Stevenson won her country's first Olympic medal in taekwondo at Beijing 2008 ©Getty Images

Varying issues were raised throughout the discussion, with Stevenson confident some could be solved relatively easily. 

“It was really nice to hear from Helena who is also an ex-athlete and a mum.

"She felt she couldn’t coach because she’s a mum and I felt I couldn’t coach because I am a mum.

"How sad is it that we are both Olympic athletes and feel we can’t become coaches?

"If I was an athlete, I would 100 per cent want a female Olympic medallist coaching me so I could feel as if someone understands me.

"There are some things that will take a long time to break down but there are others that can be fixed quite easily, like allowing flexible working hours for those with a family.

“Why don’t we have two female ex-athletes going to two major events each as coaches, rather than not having any?”

World Taekwondo has been working to achieve an athlete and referee 50-50 gender split by the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, but have not yet focused on other areas of the federation. 

Full gender equality was a key goal in the IOC's Agenda 2020 reform process passed in 2014, with federations encouraged to address the current imbalance.