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women in world athletics seminar

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WIWA 2015

20 April 2015

The third Women in World Athletics (WIWA) seminar took place this weekend with more than 40 delegates from 23 countries taking part in British Athletcs’ pre-legacy programme for the London 2017 IAAF World Championships.

The seminar, held at Chesford Grange Hotel in Kenilworth from 17-20 April, began on Friday evening with an introduction by Lis Henderson, an original delegate from the first event held in 2013 and a Field Judge Official.

This was followed immediately by the keynote speech delivered by 16-time Paralympic medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, who spoke about her 30 years in athletics in various roles from athlete through to leadership roles.

The House of Lords parliamentarian challenged the delegates to “find their voice” and have the confidence to take the first steps into leadership roles.

She said: “I can’t change the world on my own, I need lots of help. Find the people who can unlock the doors.

“The big thing I think we need to change is actually women’s attitudes; to have more self-belief. I would love to see women have more confidence and not be afraid to try. We need more women in every aspect of sport.”

She outlined her vast experiences, including her involvement in the successful London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid, which she described as “the best feeling I’ve ever experienced in sport.”

Grey-Thompson ended her speech with a challenge to the delegates: “It is amazing to see so many women in the room. You have got the power to make things better.”

The Saturday began with an introduction for European Athletics’ Head of Development Bill Glad who gave some background to European Athletics’ work in making more female leaders, but admitted that there is still a long way to go in a difficult journey.

Stuart West, Director of MBA Programmes at the University of Derby, then took over and provided an overview of the 2013 and 2014 WIWA seminars and summarised the results of the programme so far. He moved on to explain the aims of the 2015 programme which contains a focus on putting the women’s aspirations into action.

There was then a session on developing careers which was delivered by Dr Amanda Harrington of Loughborough University. Harrington has worked as a consultant in career development with organisations such as the Arts Council and passed her advice on to the delegates.

The next guest speaker, Radha Balani of London Sport, took to the stage to address the delegates on the topic of overcoming barriers and self-esteem.

She spoke about the barriers she faced and how she overcame what she described as “limiting beliefs”; declaring that “the main barrier we face is ourselves.”

Next up was a further careers session delivered by Orla Kelleher of the University of Derby before the day concluded with the WIWA and Officials Social Dinner.

Sunday’s activity centred around overcoming barriers to career progression with another guest speech, this time from former athlete Kelly Sotherton, who won a bronze medal in the heptathlon at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Sotherton, also a former Commonwealth heptathlon champion, spoke about her own experience of moving from being an athlete to a role in athletics administration.

Sunday afternoon also featured a session on how to generate support networks and ended with the WIWA Finale Dinner.

The seminar was wrapped up on Monday morning with a session on women’s leadership by Bill Glad and a final chance for the delegates to do some networking.

British Athletics’ Major Events Director believes that the weekend was another huge success on the road to London hosting the IAAF World Championships in 2017.

She said: “It was great to see so many women from all over the world come together and make progress in developing the roles of women in sport. We hope that WIWA can act as a platform to help women progress into leadership roles towards 2017 and beyond.”