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Centeno participates in Women’s Day celebration in Lausanne


LAUSANNE, Switzerland, March 16, 2017 – FIVB Executive Vice-Presidents Marta Eugenia Centeno O. De Sajche and Bouchra Hajij helped celebrate International Women’s Day by attending the three-day International Federation Women in Leadership Roles Forum in Lausanne from March 6-8.


FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F° and Secretary General Fernando Lima also participated in the UN International Women’s Day event in Geneva on Wednesday, which involved a roundtable discussion with high-level speakers on the role of sports in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. 


Discussing the progress of gender equality in sport over the past year, FIVB President Ary Graça said: “International Women’s Day is an important date for both the FIVB and sport in general. It is crucial for International Federations to share in open and engaging discussions as we did at the Palais des Nations today. It has been a really positive year for the FIVB in this regard, first with the historic participation of the Egyptian beach volleyballers at the Rio 2016 Games, and more recently continuing progress with Iranian authorities to allow women to watch the men’s Kish Island beach volleyball event.


The FIVB are proud to have participated in both the UN celebration and the IF Women in Leadership Roles Forum in Lausanne, and I look forward to building on our experiences this week to continue to create equal opportunities for women in volleyball as we strive towards our goal of making volleyball the number one family sport in the world.”


The IF Women in Leadership Roles Forum is jointly organised by the IOC and ASOIF, and brings together female leaders in sport to discuss gender equality. This year’s forum focused on identifying methods of increasing development opportunities and the recruitment of women in decision-making positions. The focus of the forum follows the IOC Executive Board’s call to the Olympic Movement to achieve a minimum of 30 per cent of women in leadership roles by 2020. The FIVB, who have three women on their Executive Board, actively promote equal opportunities for women and are working towards equal representation in management, coaching and officiating positions. 


Bouchra Hajij said: “It is important for the FIVB to attend events that focus on the key issues in sport, and issues that we take pride in tackling head on. Since last year’s Forum there have undoubtedly been positive steps taken to provide women with better opportunities within sport, but there is still a lot of work to do. The FIVB will continue to work towards creating equal opportunities for women and it was very encouraging to see female representatives from all 28 member federations of ASOIF come together to work towards a common goal. 


Marta Eugenia Centeno O. De Sajche said: “International Women’s Day is both a time to celebrate the excellent work achieved over the past year and focus on ways to make even greater progress in the year ahead. The panel discussions, mentoring sessions and practical workshops at the Women in Leadership Roles Forum were a great way to exchange ideas and become better positioned to advance the role of women in sport. The FIVB will continue to strive for gender equality, and attending third party events like the Forum is vital in discovering new ways to achieve our goal.”


The FIVB have made considerable progress to promote gender equality both internally and externally over the past year. At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Egypt’s Doaa Elghobashy and Nada Meawad made history as they became Egypt's first ever Olympic team to compete in a beach volleyball tournament. Elghobashy competed wearing a hijab and both athletes benefited from relaxed FIVB rules regarding the attire that can be worn, which now allow women to compete in full sleeves and trousers. 


In countries where females have previously been restricted by the rules on attires, the change has led to a surge in interest from females wanting to take part in the sport. For example, the Fiji Volleyball Federation and Pacific Volleyball Partnership (PVP) programme ran their first beach volleyball coaching clinic on March 5, aimed not only at growing the sport in Fiji, but also promoting gender equality and greater female participation in sport. The first clinic attracted 9 girls and three boys and will run every Saturday in March.


International Women’s Day takes place every year on March 8 and this year’s campaign theme was #BeBoldForChange.