Gender equality, indeed equality of any sort, is at the heart of FIH values. But, across our global hockey community, there are inevitably disparities and differences in how far equality has been achieved to this point.
On the one hand, we have mixed umpires operating at the highest level, most recently in the latest FIH Hockey Pro League matches, indicating a complete acceptance that men and women can perform the task equally well. On the other hand, we still have scenarios where there are stark inequalities. These range from inequity when it comes to funding men’s and women’s hockey through to a lack of equal presence on a board or committee.
To address these issues, FIH is launching a National Association Development Series on Gender Equality, starting in mid-November. The series, which is being led by EHF President Marijke Fleuren and Valerie Horyna, will be delivered via webinars and open to representatives from all National Associations.
Both Fleuren and Horyna are leading proponents of gender equality – Fleuren sits on the IOC Women in Sport Commission and both women are key players in the FIH Women in Sport Committee.
The series will be divided into three sessions: an informative introductory webinar that looks at the wider picture. This opening activity will raise awareness of some of the challenges and successes surrounding gender equality in hockey. A wide range of speakers from different backgrounds will offer their perspectives on gender equality.
The introductory session will be followed by five online forums, one for each continental federation. These will examine in more detail some of the challenges and solutions faced by NAs in that region. Keynote speakers, open discussions, looking at case studies and questions and answer sessions will all be used to really delve deep into equality issues.
The concluding session will take the form of a workshop, bringing all elements together. This session is still in the planning stages but the aim is to bring all NAs together to discuss the issues raised and agree ways to move forwards.
Speaking ahead of the opening session, Marijke Fleuren says: “This is such an exciting initiative. Across the continental federations and national associations, there is an open attitude and willingness to ensure gender equality at all levels of the game. But it is a fact of life that some NAs and CFs are further down the line toward achieving equality than others.
“The purpose of the NA Development Series on Gender Equality is to identify areas where improvements can be made, share good practice, discuss issues, highlight where there might be barriers to equality and, through collective willingness and creative thought, arrive at some solutions. I urge all NAs to get involved because hockey is marching onwards when it comes to equality and we want to take everyone with us.”