More than 100 delegates from 35 countries have kicked off two days of conversation around improving and increasing the role of women in the global paddling community.

The opening day of the International Canoe Federation's inaugural Women's Symposium in Dublin, Ireland, heard several keynote speakers outline some of the challenges facing women as they seek more presence in canoe sports, but also heard a vision outlined for the future.

Several unique and lively workshops help started the discussion about how we create the future we want to see. A key message for this came from IOC President Thomas Bach, who cited the new Olympic motto ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger – Together’.

The message of together was echoed throughout the day, with Sport Ireland CEO Dr Una May emphasising the role of the community in create the environment for women to feel confident and supported to reach leadership positions.

"We can plan as best we can but anything we want to achieve we must achieve through the community," Dr May said.

This message preceded an incredibly impactful key-note speech from Zelda La Grange, former private secretary to Nelson Mandela. The change which Zelda has seen driven in her home country of South Africa set a powerful example for the change others can create in our own communities.

The day was capped off with a panel of three leading women in global sport – Dr Cecilia Farias (Vice president of the International Canoe Federation, Maree Burnett (ICF Executive Committee), and Nora Stapleton (Sport Ireland Women in Sport Lead). This panel left all in attendance with some kay actions they can enact in their own communities, with the message that it is the responsibility of both men and women to create an environment in which women feel confident to pursue leadership positions.

Event organisers would like to extend a huge thank you to Thomas Byrne TD (Minister of State for Sport and Physical Education) for attending and speaking at the event. And to all the event sponsors and supporters who helped bring this event to the stage.

Download the full schedule; listing all presentations, workshops, and speakers

ICF Women in Sport Symposium Dublin 2023

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