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WISPA launches ‘Change Inspires Change’ in support of IWG 2022

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The 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport launched today at a live digital event, officially taking its place as one of the “big four” women’s sports events coming to Aotearoa New Zealand between 2021 – 2023.

White Ferns cricket captain Sophie Devine and former Black Fern rugby player Melodie Robinson headlined the live digital launch of the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport today, Friday 4 September, alongside New Zealand Minister for Sport & Recreation, the Hon Grant Robertson, and leading sports administrator, Raelene Castle ONZM. The new ‘Change Inspires Change’ global campaign also debuted officially. Over 600 people from Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally attended or registered to receive the link so they can watch it in their own timezone.

The live digital launch was delivered by the current Secretariat of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport, Women in Sport Aotearoa, in partnership with Trans-Tasman Business Circle SportsConnect. It marked the start of the journey toward and beyond the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport taking place in Auckland and online, between 5-8 May 2022. The launch saw the event officially take its place as one of the “big four” women’s sports events coming to Aotearoa New Zealand between 2021 – 2023, alongside the World Cups in rugby, cricket and football.

Following a Mihi whakatau (traditional welcome) by Taiaha Hawke, trustee of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei; and a welcome from Sharron Lloyd, General Manager of the Trans – Tasman Business Circle, an opening address was given by the Hon Grant Robertson. He reflected on the ongoing work of Sport New Zealand to make play, active recreation and sport more inclusive in Aotearoa New Zealand and his excitement over the women’s World Cup events and IWG 2022.

Rachel Froggatt, Secretary General of the IWG then launched “Change Inspires Change.” The new campaign is all about empowering the individual to make positive change for women and girls in sport and physical activity worldwide. The concept follows a simple premise: “every change you make, no matter how small or large, inspires the next, and the next. By sharing your story, you can help inspire others to make change.” Three key initiatives were announced:

  • Firstly, the 8th IWG World Conference on Women & Sport will be delivered as a full scale physical-digital hybrid. A four day event will take place on the ground in Auckland, New Zealand, between 5-8 May 2020. But recognising the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on travel, IWG New Zealand is living its mantra “Change Inspires Change”, and will also for the first time in IWG history, run a fully interactive virtual programme in parallel to the physical event. The Secretariat especially emphasised that the virtual programme will not be a window to the physical programme, but will interact with it and stand-alone as well.
  • Secondly, the Secretariat is today beginning the process of building a world first IWG Insight Hub, to be launched in 2021. The hub will become the home for the world’s best research, insight, case studies, news and interactive programmes such as training and seminars. The intention is for IWG, as the global network, to share, promote and support stories of change inspiring change from around the world, with a particular emphasis on the 600 signatories to the IWG Brighton plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration on Women & Sport. Stories are being collected online at now and will be shared across the IWG network in coming months, before finding a home on the new IWG Insight Hub next year.
  • Finally, it was announced that the IWG will use these new technology initiatives to grow and support its global ‘community of action’. The physical-digital hybrid nature of the 8th IWG World Conference and the new IWG Insight Hub will support connectedness around the world with thousands of people in the network worldwide.

This was followed by a keynote address from leading sports administrator Raelene Castle ONZM, who very aptly brought the “Change Inspires Change” campaign to life by sharing a story of a young female rugby player in Australia, and by sharing her own experiences as a female leader in sport. This was followed by a lively panel discussion moderated by Melodie Robinson, exploring the stories of panellists including the Minister, Sophie Devine and Haylee Putaranui, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Fonterra, one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest businesses.

Rachel Froggatt, Secretary General of the International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport and Chief Executive of Women in Sport Aotearoa, said: “For the first time in its long history, the IWG World Conference on Women & Sport will be a full physical-digital hybrid event. We know women and girls are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 across of society. We are launching ‘Change Inspires Change’ to help unify the sport and physical activity community in support of women and girls. We are encouraging people working all around the world to share their stories of change inspiring change with us online now, to help us along the journey toward and beyond Auckland 2022.”


Raelene Castle ONZM is one of Australasia’s most well-known sports administrators. She joined Rugby Australia as the code’s first female CEO, beginning in the role in January 2018 and recently stepping down. She was previously the CEO of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, where she spent four years leading the National Rugby League club. Prior to that she had six years as CEO of Netball New Zealand.

Raelene Castle ONZM, said: “I am pleased to have provided a keynote address to support the launch of ‘Change Inspires Change’. We certainly live in a very different world these days, thanks to COVID-19. The system has taken a significant shock worldwide. Now, more than ever, we must be focussed to ensure that women and girls do not go without. A campaign such as this, which harnesses the power of digital storytelling to share wisdom and learnings around the world is very compelling and timely.”

New Zealand Minister for Sport & Recreation, the Hon Grant Robertson, also addressed participants. The Minister is an avid sports fan and champion for ‘women in sport’. At the beginning of his tenure, he stated that positive change for women and girls in sport and active recreation in Aotearoa New Zealand was his number one priority. Since then he has supported change across the sector, launching the ‘Women & Girls in Sport & Active Recreation’ strategy, with Sport NZ committing a $10 million investment in response to target initiatives to enable more women and girls to realise their potential.

The International Working Group (IWG) on Women & Sport is the largest network in the world dedicated to achieving gender equality in sport and physical activity. The IWG World Conference is the biggest worldwide gathering of experts in the field, attracting over 1,200+ leaders quadrennially. Every four years since 1994, the IWG Secretariat & World Conference has moved to a new host nation. Aotearoa New Zealand is hosting it between 2018 – 2022, with Women in Sport Aotearoa as official delivery agent. Women in Sport Aotearoa in turn is supported by an array of partners, friends and allies, and is particularly grateful to Sport New Zealand; Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED); Tourism New Zealand; and the Trans – Tasman Business Circle.

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