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Date: 3/8/2018

March 8 marks International Women’s Day – a day that has gathered increasing meaning for women around the world who take the opportunity to celebrate achievement, use their voice to fight for continued progress, and recognise each other. That meaning permeates the sporting world, where so many women play a crucial role in the success and development of their chosen discipline.


In handball, there are women and girls competing on the field of play, contributing vital management in their leadership or organisational roles, coaching athletes of all ages and levels, refereeing and officiating matches to keep them safe and enjoyable, bringing the exciting events on the calendar closer to fans of the game in their various media roles, and volunteering in various positions at every major competition.


“It is a time when women in handball have support in all areas of activity – referees, delegates, coaches. That is great,” says newly elected IHF Executive Committee member Narcisa Lecusanu, a former player who won a silver medal with Romania at the 2005 World Championship and now serves as part of the IHF Women’s Handball Working Group. “But, I think we still have space to raise the level of support with development in education to have more female leaders, managers, etc.”


While Lecusanu says March 8 is a day for women to feel more appreciated, in their working life as well as in their personal lives, it is also an opportunity for the men working toward equality around the world to be celebrated:


“Thank you to those people who accept women that are competent and have qualities to complement the men. In my opinion, this is the ideal team.”


Importance of gender equality recognised by IHF Congress


Lecusanu speaks specifically regarding the work in handball, where many believe it is crucial for both genders to cooperate in order for the sport to move forward into the future. This very subject received overwhelming support at the 2017 IHF Congress in Turkey, where the Norwegian Handball Federation’s motion that both genders should be represented in all IHF bodies was approved by a two-third majority.


“The organisation should continue to integrate female representatives in their structures, and empower female leadership, as well as to encourage the stakeholders to follow. Based on the fact that females constitute more than 50-70% of the members of most handball federations, we will argue that females are highly underrepresented in the international handball bodies,” said the proposal put forward by the Norwegian Handball Federation.


This year, International Women’s Day is celebrated with the theme and social media campaign #PressforProgress. In recent years, there has been a clear increase in global visibility of women’s rights and equality campaigns. More than ever, women and the men who support them are seeking gender parity – but 2012 IHF World Handball Player of the Year, Alexandra do Nascimento, reminds us that this push is not limited to one day per year.


“It's important not just because it's OUR day, but also because it is a reminder that every day can be our day as women, players and dreamers. Handball today is showing us that we are playing a big part, that there are people (and not just a few) who actually prefer to watch women's handball.


“There are a lot of women besides the players and main coaches working for our sport, like referees, presidents of several clubs, general managers and even those taking care of young talents,” says Nascimento, who is also a member of the IHF Women’s Handball Working Group alongside Lecusanu.


“Of course, we still have a lot of work to do, this is just the beginning. But for me, these are promising and exciting times. In this important day, I invite you to keep going, keep working and keep loving this amazing sport.”