Birgitta Kervinen receives the IOC Women and Sport World Trophy Award

On 9th of November at a stunning gala in Lausanne, our former President, now Honorary President, Birgitta Kervinen received the IOC Women and Sport World Trophy Award for her advocacy work for gender equality in sport. The award is USD 50,000 and Mrs. Kervinen is planning to use it for advancing women’s leadership in sport in Europe.

The praise speech highlighted Mrs. Kervinen’s passionate work towards equal rights in sport, her strive to inspire girls and women in sport throughout her career: from the time she worked as a coach and physical education teacher, to the times when she served ENGSO and the International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) in leadership roles.

In her acceptance speech, Mrs. Kervinen emphasised the key elements of her work and also brought the attention to the work that is ahead of us:

“Dreams. Unity. Courage. Strength. These are the words that come to my mind when I think about the road we have travelled when promoting gender equality within the world of sport. We have come a long way. A Dream of a more equal world of sport has been our driving force.”

“Now, the culture of sport offers more opportunities to girls and women than ever before. However, promoting equality has not reached the end of the road. In fact, the work has only begun.”

“Female role models are needed. In 2017, there are 206 NOC’s and 6.8% of NOC Presidents and 15.2% of the Secretary Generals are women. This is not enough. Every single NOC, every single continental Olympic Association, and every single international organisation must place the issue of gender equality into their agenda. This is not a women’s issue, this is our issue, and this issue can be solved by us.”

Mrs. Kervinen has been an influencer of political meetings and conferences on the topic, and she did a tremendous job in strengthening cooperation with key European Union and Council of Europe stakeholders in promoting and raising awareness about gender equality. She was one of the driving forces to push the European Commission to prioritise gender equality as a sports policy topic. This work paid off with concrete actions, as former Commissioner responsible for sport, the gala’s European Trophy winner, Androulla Vassiliou, set up a Group of Experts to draft the EU’s strategic document on gender equality in sport.

At ENGSO, we are proud of that under the leadership of Mrs. Kervinen, we led and contributed to numerous projects on women’s role in sport.

The recently concluded SCORE (Strengthening Coaching with the Objective to Raise Equality) was an Erasmus+ projects that promoted gender equality in coaching. It focused on increasing the number of employed and volunteer female coaches at all levels of sport as well as enhancing knowledge on gender equality in coach education.

The WILD (Women's International Leadership Development) programme was a mentoring programme from 2010 to 2011 with the aim to up-skill potential women leaders from across Europe and leave a legacy of tools and information for future projects.

ENTER! was a project of the Leonardo da Vinci Programme of the European Commission. It was developed by ENGSO, and it run from 2009 to 2010. Two of its objectives were to increase women's involvement in sport leadership and to empower women for leadership roles in sport.

At ENGSO, we wholeheartedly congratulate our Honorary President Birgitta Kervinen on this amazing achievement and we are committed to continue the legacy of her outstanding career.

From left: Lydia Nsekera, Chair of the IOC Women and Sport Commission, Birgitta Kervinen, World Trophy Winner and Thomas Bach, IOC President. Photo credits: IOC/Greg Martin

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