FEI’s Sabrina Ibáñez to head IOC’s diversity and gender equality group

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FEI Secretary-General Sabrina Ibáñez, who is the new Chair of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) Diversity and Gender Equality Consultative Group.
FEI Secretary-General Sabrina Ibáñez, who is the new Chair of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) Diversity and Gender Equality Consultative Group. © FEI/Liz Gregg

FEI Secretary-General Sabrina Ibáñez is the new Chair of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) Diversity and Gender Equality Consultative Group.

Ibáñez, a founding member of the group, takes over from Marisol Casado. Her appointment was announced during yesterday’s ASOIF Council online meeting. ASOIF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said Ibáñez “represents a Federation which has been exemplary in promoting gender equality and diversity. Together with the other Group members, she will provide important advice to ASOIF”.

The ASOIF Diversity and Gender Equality Consultative Group (ADGEG) was established in May 2019 as a follow-up action to the recommendations of the IOC’s Gender Equality Review Project. It was mandated to address and challenge stereotypes and work closely with the IOC towards a world of sport which provides equal opportunity for everyone.

Ibáñez became the first female FEI Secretary-General in 2014. She was elected the first President of the Association of Paralympic Sports Organisations (APSO) in 2017 and is also a member of the IOC Gender Equality Working Group. FEI President Ingmar De Vos became a UN International Gender Champion in March 2017.

“Both the FEI President and I are keen advocates of open and frank discussions of gender and diversity within the equestrian community, which is why we dedicated a session to gender equality at the 2019 FEI Sports Forum”, Ibáñez said. “It allowed us to take stock of where we are as a sport and to inject some new thinking and ideas into the discussion.”

While equestrian sport is gender-neutral on the field of play, the FEI has introduced key practices to reduce the structural barriers to gender equality and diversity at the leadership level. The criteria of the Nominations Committee now states that if there are comparable candidates for a position, preference needs to be given to the gender that is under-represented in the body.

Ibáñez said diversity and gender equality at the top table are crucial to the success of any organisation.

“We have seen that International Federations with gender equality on their boards have a 70% higher success rate overall,” she said. “Unfortunately, the organisational structures that currently exist across the sport’s world have relegated some groups of people to the sidelines so that they are not fully included in important decision-making processes.

“Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that all voices are heard in the decision-making process to better address the constant change in the sporting landscape. I am extremely honoured to have been given this responsibility and to continue working with a group of people with the drive and passion to move the agenda forward, particularly at a time when there is an even greater urgency to make sustainable decisions,” Ibáñez said.

“Equal access and opportunity to participate in sport is a fundamental human right and it is this capacity for inclusivity that gives sport its true power.”

Marisol Casado, President of the International Triathlon Union, remains a member of the group, which is completed by David Carrigy (World Rugby), Robert Fasulo (International Surfing Association), Heike Groesswang (International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation), Amina Lanaya (International Cycling Union), Deqa Niamkey (United World Wrestling) and Matt Smith (World Rowing).

• As part of FEI Solidarity, the Federation created the Gender Equality Grant in Equestrian Sport in 2020 to grant CHF 20,000 to one specific National Federation project or programme whose main aim and focus is the promotion of gender equality. This can include programmes relating to governance and administration, athletes’ participation, coaches, officials, grooms and farriers.

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