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Tuesday 21 February 2012 | Published in Regional


Participants at the 5th IOC World Conference on Women and Sport called on sports leaders to take a more proactive role in advancing the cause of women in and through sport as the event came to a close in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday.

Among the 800 delegates from 135 countries at the event was Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee secretary general Rosie Blake BEM.

As well as being in Los Angeles as the chairperson of the Cook Islands Women in Sport Commission, Blake was honoured with the woman in sport award for the Oceania region by the International Olympic Committee for a lifelong dedication to sports in the Cook Islands.

“This is a huge honour that has been placed upon the Cook Islands,” commented minister of sport Mark Brown.

“Let’s give credit where it is due. We are all too often quick to criticise our own people but slow to recognise the unseen and unreported good that has been done over many years by our own people.”

At the awards ceremony, Blake epitomised proud Cook Islands women in a strand of Manihiki black pearls and trade mark ei katu.

But it wasn’t all glamour as Blake, assisted by Lydia Sijp, presented to IOC delegates the progress of sport in the Cook Islands and the role it plays in the development of a positive society.

Blake also took part in a three-day conference, whose theme was ‘together stronger: the future of sport’.

The conference ended with over 800 delegates from 135 countries unanimously approving “The Los Angeles Declaration”, a series of recommendations aimed at promoting gender equality in sport and using sport as a tool to improve the lives of women around the world.

The declaration focused on two main themes – the need to bring more women into management and leadership roles and the need to increase collaboration and partnerships, especially with UN organisations, to promote gender equality.

IOC President Jacques Rogge assured the conference delegates that the Olympic Movement would act on the recommendations.

The conference declaration acknowledged that the Olympic Movement’s steady progress towards gender equality on the field of play had not been matched in sports leadership positions.

It called for more resources to support women in sports leadership roles and urged sports organisations to follow the IOC’s lead by adopting policies to advance gender equality.

The record number of delegates at this year’s conference included well-known figures from the world of sport, as well as representatives of civil society, government and academia.

The 2012 Women and Sport Awards were presented on the opening day of the conference, with India’s Manisha Malhotra winning the World Trophy for her commitment to helping disadvantaged girls progress through sport.

The five continental winners were Peninnah Aligawesa Kabenge (Africa), the Bradesco Sports and Education Progamme and Centre (Americas), Zaiton Othman (Asia), Aikaterini Nafplioti-Panagopoulos (Europe), and Roseline Blake (Oceania).

Held every four years, the aim of the World Conference on Women and Sport is to assess the progress made in advancing the cause of gender equality within the Olympic Movement and to define future priority actions to improve and increase the involvement of girls and women in this framework.