The tenth president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should be a woman. That is the view of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis.
Lewis, who is also president of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) believes that current IOC president Thomas Bach is a progressive leader who is dedicated to gender equality and good governance. “President Bach’s mandate is likely to be renewed to 2025. The IOC membership should set themselves the goal of electing the first ever IOC woman President post 2025. Lead by example. It will be transformational and break the glass ceiling,” Lewis said on the TTOC’s website.
Lewis argued that to effectively implement Agenda 2020 and the recommendations of the Gender Equality Working Group, there needs to be greater support by the Continental Olympic Organisations and National Olympic Committee leaders.
“With all the institutional efforts and progressive leadership at the top of the IOC,” he said, “there needs to be greater buy-in by the leaders across the Continental Olympic Organisations, International Federations, ANOC and the NOCs, let us recognise there is a problem to address and while it requires a combination of evolution and a step by step approach it also needs a revolution.”
The IOC’s strategic objective around gender equality calls for growing female participation at the Olympic Games to 50 per cent but it is not the same at the leadership and decision-making level.
Lewis said: “The IOC has never had a woman president. It is time for a woman president. There are many NOCs that have never had a woman president. It is time for a woman president. It is time for 50/50 gender equality on Continental and NOC executive committees; the time is now. We need to have a sense of urgency about this. Across the Olympic Movement a fast track leadership programme that identifies potential women leaders should be in place. Succession planning is male dominated and out of touch with the contemporary realities of the world as we know it today. The patriarchal mindset, bias and prejudice is unacceptable.”
Lewis, who became president of the TTOC in 2013, called upon the current leaders in the Olympic Movement to pay more than lip service to the principle of gender equality when it comes to the election of leaders and decision-makers.
Lewis said for women to get a fair chance, men who are creating the bottleneck and the glass ceiling have to give opportunities to women.
While acknowledging that significant progress has been made and that girls and women are being given greater access and opportunity to participate in sport, the TTOC president said the pace of progress must be accelerated so that the Olympic movement governance and decision making bodies can reflect the reality of the modern world.
“There must be a commitment by leaders, who are mainly men, to do something concrete and practical, the history and culture of the Olympic Movement is patriarchal,“ Lewis said.
Lewis also cautioned that the conversation needs to move from rigid gender stereotypes based on gender binary and hetero-normative social constructs about gender and women in sport to gender equality, gender justice, inclusion and diversity.