**This is a request for the ICF to make decisions, processes, voting records, etc. available for the public and to reconsider several 2015 decisions.**
In our November 17, 2014 blog post we presented data reflecting the male dominated European culture of the International Canoe Federation (ICF). The data show a nearly all male Board, an all-male Executive Committee and all-male Committee Chairs. It also showed Europe with 87% of Executive Committee positions and 52% of all Board positions while Europe has only 25% of all participating national federations.
When we are asked why there continues to be gross negligence when it comes to gender equality and universality, we can only point to this data. Though, having said this, over the years we have been served better by several men in key positions, and not by the ICF’s own Women’s Commission.
GENDER EQUALITY AND TRANSPARENCY NEGLIGENCE
The ICF held its biannual Congress November 7-9, 2014 in Warsaw, Poland, but little information has been made public. Major votes took place and announcements made about the 2015 Rules and Worlds Program and even the 2020 Olympic program, including several immediately impacting Women’s Canoe. The only public information we have to go by are Tweets from CanoeKayak Canada (CKC). We wrote to the ICF requesting clarification for the Tweets but have not received a response.
We request an official ICF public news release outlining and providing public access to the following:
- A list of all “motions” (i.e., proposals) submitted to the ICF by national federations and/or crafted by the ICF prior to the 2014 ICF Congress. Each motion should include the justification for the proposed changes. This list should include all approved and disapproved proposals and justification for disapproval;
- A complete list of voting records of all 2014 ICF Congress participants (names and National Federation affiliation. There were 248 total participants);
- An explanation of how ICF Board members are nominated and selected and how Continental Board (Representative) positions are selected and distributed;
- Detailed information on the ICF’s Good Governance Project;
- A report or response from the ICF Women’s Commission regarding their opinion of the current state of affairs (i.e., lack of equal opportunities and access for women athletes and women in leadership and administration) and their proposed strategy for developing women athletes, equalizing the Olympic program and developing women for leadership positions;
- Reconsideration by the ICF of the 2015 Program for Women’s Canoe.
- The ICF should include a minimum of 4 events for all 2015 international competitions.
- Besides the unnecessary delay in Olympic status to “maybe” 2020, continuing to delay women equal events at the World level is a violation of human rights under the Olympic Charter and the ICF’s own Gender Equality Policy. This repression drives National Federations to also limit or prevent women and girls equal access and opportunities.
- According to the ICF’s own data, there are approximately 50 countries with women and girls racing and/or developing in canoe in Sprint and Slalom.
- At 2014 Worlds competitions in Sprint and Slalom, participation levels were as high as 29 countries from 5 continents spread across all World level competitions. However, due to lack of Olympic status, many National Federations continue to not take the gender equality edict seriously, refuse to develop and send women canoeists to international ICF competitions or ICF development opportunities, and many still refuse to offer equal women’s canoe events at the national level. A token C1 200 is not enough for the ever-growing population of women and girls who are racing/developing in canoes and who WANT to race canoes.
WOMEN’S CANOE 2015 AND BEYOND
According to CKC Tweets during the recent ICF Congress (November 7, 2014), the 2015 Worlds Program for Women’s Canoe will look like this:
- Junior/U23 Sprint World Championships
- 2014 Program included 2 events: C1 200, C2 500
- 2015 Approved Program: C1 200, REMOVE C2 500, ADD C1 500, ADD C2 200
- Senior Sprint World Championships – NO CHANGES from 2014 Program
- 2014 Program included 2 events: C1 200, C2 500
- Junior and Senior Marathon World Championships
- 2014 Program: No Women’s Canoe events
- 2015 Program: ADD Junior and Senior C1 Women
- Why are there no changes to the Senior Worlds Program at the same time you are proposing Women’s Canoe for the 2020 Olympics?
- Women were expecting and ready for at least 5 events for 2015 at all levels:
C1 200, C1 500, C2 200, C2 500, and C1 5000.
- If women can do the Marathon, why can’t they do the longer distances at Sprint World Championships?
- Why was the Women’s C2 500 dropped from the Junior/U23 Program if it remains on the Senior Program?
(By the way, ICF: please stop announcing that Women’s Canoe “will be” in the 2020 Olympics. The IOC is the only entity with authority to make
this announcement and initial 2020 decisions should be made December 8-9, 2014. ICF senior leaders have made such announcements since May 2014 and they instructed media professionals to do the same causing unnecessary confusion in the paddling community).
CONTINUED LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND TRUST
Transparency is a key element of Good Governance, along with accountability, professionalism, and integrity – all building trust. The ICF’s lack of transparency and information flow to the people affected most by ICF decisions – the athletes – and their repeated spreading of mis-information to the public and to the IOC, has left its members and stakeholders asking many questions about the future of our sport on the Olympic Program. It continues to cause mistrust of the ICF’s commitment to gender equality and universality, in accordance with the Olympic Charter and the ICF Gender Equality Policy, and even its commitment to Canadian Canoeing, a legacy Olympic discipline.
The ICF’s behavior and decisions drive behavior and decisions of National Federations and regional/local paddling communities. The ICF has not provided a clear, understandable and viable strategy for the way forward for women in our Sport or for Canadian Canoeing.
In conclusion, the ICF and National Federations express concern about lower participation rates in Canadian (high kneel) Canoeing generally, and women’s canoe specifically. While a focus on boat weights and technology/resource development are necessary, this misses the boat. Look no further than the ICF’s own decisions to further delay women equal access and opportunity in its programs (events and distances competed) and the ICF’s own decisions to never include a C4 (4 person canoe) event at the Olympics (since 1936), in conjunction with the 4 person kayak event currently on the program for men and women. The four-person canoe event, with arms, hips and legs moving powerfully and gracefully in unison, is a majestic sight to behold.
Fewer opportunities for athletes = less incentive to invest.
The health and economies of countries suffer greatly when half of the population is prevented or limited in equal access to opportunities.
Sport is no different.