The Smart Cities and Sport Summit 2021 was first to hear the announcement that the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport has signed an agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Speaking by live link to delegates here, Rachel Froggatt, the IWG secretary general, said the IOC would be investing in and supporting delivery of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport in Aotearoa New Zealand, next May.
"I am really proud to make an exclusive announcement here at Smart Cities and Sport that as of today we have entered into formal partnership with the International Olympic Committee, which has come on board and will be helping to support the delivery of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport," she said.
"For many years, the IOC has been working to achieve gender equality on and off the field of play and we are absolutely convinced that the stories of change that come out of the Olympic Movement will add huge amounts to the conversation taking place both here in Auckland next year and worldwide.
"I want to say an enormous thank you to IOC President Thomas Bach for his support."
Held over four days from May 5 to 8 2022, the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport will break new ground with its eighth edition.
From humble beginnings in Brighton back in 1994, the event has now become the world’s largest gathering to advance gender equity and equality in sport and physical activity.
More than 1,200 global leaders attended in-person in Gaborone in Botswana in 2018, including the IOC.
The move to a hybrid format – with a full physical experience in Auckland running simultaneously with a fully interactive virtual experience – is expected to draw many hundreds more.
Froggatt continued: "Now, more than ever, we need to draw together as a global community of action, to drive positive change for women and girls in sport and physical activity.
"The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt in every corner of the globe, threatening momentum toward gender equity and equality.
"We are proud to have the IOC join us as a partner, as we drive onwards."
Raewyn Lovett, the IWG co-chair, added: "For many years, the IOC has been working to achieve gender equality on and off the field of play.
"Their support is a welcome addition to the comprehensive programme, which we will be announcing shortly.
"On behalf of the IWG Global Executive, we extend our thanks and gratitude to the IOC and look forward to working together."
Lydia Nsekera, chair of the IOC Women in Sport Commission, commented: "The IOC is very pleased to support the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport.
"Such forums are instrumental to advancing gender equality and inclusion.
"They bring key actors together to reach this common goal we all have: building an equal and inclusive sporting world."
The IOC will also contribute to the IWG Insight Hub, a new online platform launched by the IWG recently, as home for the world’s best insights, case studies, toolkits and news to support positive change for women and girls worldwide.