• Polona Fonda

Meet the #ESP2021 speakers: Francine Hetherington Raveney, EPAS


Francine Hetherington Raveney, Deputy Executive Secretary for the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS), will be one of the guest speakers in the #ESP2021 workshop 1: Equality in sport - change that inspires changes.


Francine is an expert in the fields of gender equality, co-productions, communication, and sport. She obtained a Master’s in Women’s Studies at Oxford University and then went on to carry out doctoral studies in France in this area. Since 2000, she has worked in a number of international organisations, including the Council of Europe, where she is currently Deputy Executive Secretary for EPAS. In 2012, she founded and was Executive Director of the European Women’s Audiovisual Network. In this role she oversaw a major pan-European study, she devised and raised funding for an innovative training course amongst other activities. Between 2014 and 2020 she managed the gender equality working group for Eurimages and helped prepare and oversee the adoption of the Council of Europe Recommendation on Gender Equality in the Audiovisual Sector (2017) alongside other gender-related work.



When it comes equality and discrimination, what are some of the biggest issues grassroots sport in facing today?

As in most sectors of society, inequality and discrimination are rife in grassroots sports, unfortunately. At the moment EPAS is focusing its attention on discrimination against intersex and transgender athletes in sporting competitions and a major conference in this area is being prepared on 20/9/2021.

Homophobia and hate speech against athletes of colour is also widespread and is exacerbated by social media and the anonymity and lack of punishment which Twitter and other networks provides.


Whilst it is difficult to provide harmonised international level responses to these issues owing to disparities between national policies particularly as regards LGBTQI+ rights, EPAS is working hard in this area and will develop a new project in the coming months. In terms of gender inequalities: unequal pay, relative lack of air time, a lack of female sporting role models, and a problem of stereotypical representation of women in sport can be flagged up. The lack of female journalists as shown by the findings of the EPAS/EU joint All IN project research study and data collection exercise, means that representation is inevitably skewed.

What is the role of EPAS and how is EPAS contributing to solving those (above mentioned) issues?

EPAS is renewing its commitment to gender equality by continuing to ensure the implementation of the indicators set out in the All In project, which will be extended to a wider range of countries from 2022 onwards and in particular in 2023. EPAS will also work in collaboration with other international organisations including the Global Observatory for Women in Sport and Unesco to ensure harmonised data collection in this area going forwards. In terms of representation EPAS intends to collaborate with bodies such as the European Broadcasting Union to support measures to counter stereotypical representations of women in sport.


In terms of combating discrimination and hate speech, EPAS is developing another project with the apposite Council of Europe departments, including ECRI and SOGI, to ensure that these issues are high on the agenda. Fact-finding, awareness-raising and providing recommendations and best practice initiatives are all factors which will be taken into account in this upcoming and much needed EPAS initiative.

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