ITF Press Release, March 8, 2021
To mark International Women’s Day, the ITF has today announced the launch of a new Leadership Development Programme as part of its Advantage All strategy.
The programme will see more than 100 women from national tennis federations around the world provided with networking and mentoring opportunities, as well as practical support and advice to help them overcome barriers and have fulfilling careers. Central to the programme will be a series of webinars hosted by industry professionals, covering a range of topics from developing leadership skills to goal setting and self-motivation. A key focus of the programme is to expand the pipeline of female candidates for future Board and Presidential elections with the ultimate aim of achieving gender balance in the boardroom.
The launch of the ITF’s Leadership Development Programme follows last week’s announcement of a new global forum, ‘Level the Playing Field’. Hosted by Catherine Whitaker and featuring special guest Billie Jean King, the event will bring together influential and inspirational individuals from sport and business to debate and advance gender equality through proactive, solution-focused discussion.
Both initiatives underline the ITF’s commitment to gender equality through its Advantage All strategy, which is supported by the Foundation for Global Sports Development. Despite the impact of COVID 19, the past 12 months have seen significant progress made. In June 2020, the ITF surveyed its 210 member nations to establish a global picture of the work being done to promote gender equality in tennis and provide an important benchmark for progress. The ITF also delivered guidelines, toolkits and workshops to enable National Associations to create their own gender equality strategies.
Having already achieved gender parity at the elite level with the Billie Jean King Cup Finals offering equivalent prize money to the Davis Cup Finals, strides have also been made in coaching and officiating. Currently, only 1 in 5 coaches are women, however, a drive to increase engagement with the ITF Academy coaching platform has led to women accounting for almost half of its 160,000 users. Officiating workshops aimed at women have been held in all six global regions over the past two years, while almost a third of National Associations now have an officiating ambassador.
A 2020 ITF Female Leadership Survey identified a lack of female role models as one of the greatest challenges women face in their careers. To address this, the ITF launched its ‘Inspiring Women’ series last summer, which profiled six female leaders from within the sport, reaching millions of people around the world. The Leadership Development Programme will also place a strong focus on the importance of role models throughout 2021.
ITF President David Haggerty said, “The ITF continues to make progress when it comes to gender equality. I am proud of what our Advantage All strategy has achieved to date, though there is still much work to be done. This year promises to be another busy one as we continue our journey towards achieving gender equality in tennis. We have an exciting programme of activity ahead that we hope and believe will make a tangible difference, not only in our sport, but also wider society.”