The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) held a Gender and Diversity (GEDI) meeting in Durban to discuss the importance of promoting gender and diversity in their organisation. The meeting signalled a major step forward in the organisation’s dedication to promoting inclusiveness and diversity within the sport.
ITTF officials in attendance were ITTF President, Petra Sörling, ITTF Executive Vice President responsible for Protocol and Governance, Wahid Oshodi, and the newly appointed Gender & Diversity Commissioner of the ITTF, Hajera Kajee.
Acting as a platform to discuss the goals and initiatives aimed at promoting a culture of equality within table tennis, the officials shared with one another, the positives but also the areas for improvement the federation should be working towards to achieve their goal.
During this inaugural GEDI meeting, ITTF President, Petra Sörling, highlighted the Executive Board’s intention to adopt a plan on Gender and Diversity while marking the change in title of the Gender Equality Commissioner to the Gender and Diversity Commissioner, reflecting the importance of both pillars.
“This is a great first-step towards renewing the efforts by the ITTF to move in the right direction in terms of gender and diversity in table tennis. Today’s meeting will kick-start a positive change and I thank Kajee for her work in this aspect of our sport and I extend my appreciation to Wahid Oshodi for being a part of this as our aim is for this to have an effect on the constitution of the ITTF” – Petra Sörling
In addition to sharing about the importance of promoting equal opportunities and an inclusive environment for all members, regardless of gender or cultural background, to participate and contribute to the sport, Commissioner Hajera Kajee also added that, “It is also very important that this promotion of diversity and equality applies to all aspects of the sport such as administration, coaching, refereeing, and player development. Sports must be as inclusive as possible. We must also focus on showcasing to everyone the value and potential of a diverse and equal environment.”
Considering the five focus areas of the IOC (participation, leadership, safe sport, portrayal, and resource allocation), the meeting discussed the current status of gender and diversity in the ITTF. Despite the need for further progress, positive changes have been made, such as equal prize money for both men and women, gender balance among technical officials, and the Athletes Commission being co-chaired by a man and woman.
The Gender & Diversity Commissioner will work closely with different stakeholders to ensure that the sport is accessible and welcoming to all, fostering a culture of diversity and respect.