Sixty women delegates from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa
and South Asia rallied in London today to demand an end to gender
discrimination at the Olympics.
Coordinated by the European Women's Lobby, and linked to a
network of more than 1,500 women's organisations across Europe, the
rally, named London 2012: Justice for Women,called on the
International Olympic Committee to remember their obligations under
the Olympic Charter.
A spokesperson said: "In advance of the Olympics, our intention
is to remind the IOC of its obligation to apply the principles of
equality and neutrality inscribed in the Olympic Charter."
The protesters presented letters to all delegates of the IOC at
their headquarters on Park Lane. The letters outline seven equality
demands determined by the movement, including demands for equal
number of male and female events, demanding that there be at least
20% women's representation on any decision-making body, and arguing
for better women's visibility in general, such as handing out
medals to both male and female marathon winners.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tachell, who supports the demands,
gave this statement: "The Olympic Charter outlaws discrimination in
sport but these provisions are being violated with impunity.
Discrimination at London 2012 is being condoned at the highest
levels of the IOC.
"There are more events for men than for women, which means that
men have the opportunity to win more Olympic medals than their
female counterparts. Gender discrimination exists in athletics,
canoeing, rowing, wrestling, shooting, and boxing. Some of the
additional events for men are based on the sexist assumption that
women are the weaker sex. These male-only events include the 50 km
walk and the decathlon.
"The IOC president will present the gold medal to the winner of
the men's marathon but not to the winner of the women's marathon,
which symbolises to the world that the men's marathon is deemed
more prestigious than the women's marathon. This is an insult to
Homophobia is also a huge issue in the Olympics. Tachell went on
to say: "In more than 150 countries, lesbian athletes have to hide
their sexuality to get selected for their country's Olympic squad;
otherwise they risk not only non-selection but also employment
discrimination, police harassment and possibly imprisonment. The
same discrimination applies to transgender and inter-sex
"In the absence of laws against homophobic and transphobic
discrimination, victimisation and bias against lesbian and
transgender athletes is endemic in most competing nations."
The London 2012: Justice for Women campaign hope that by making
these small changes to the way the Olympics are run (all seven are
here) it will endeavour to allow all women from all competing
countries the chance to compete fairly and without fear of