Serving up Equality: Celebrating Women in Volleyball

The FIVB is leading the way in gender equality both on and off the court

·       On International Women’s Day, the FIVB reaffirmed its commitment to championing gender equality on and off the court

·       Volleyball stands out as the most gender-equal team sport globally

·       Volleyball has equal interest from both women and men in playing volleyball sports, a gender-balanced fanbase, equal prize money and increasingly equal opportunities in the administration of the sport

·       By promoting gender equality within its sport and leadership bodies, volleyball aims to inspire broader societal changes

As the world comes together to celebrate International Women’s Day, the FIVB has highlighted some of many remarkable achievements of women in the world of volleyball and has reasserted its commitment to championing gender equality on and off the court.

International Women’s Day is a global celebration held annually on 8 March to honour the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. It serves as a reminder of the ongoing work to achieve gender equality across all areas, and the need to advocate for women’s rights and empowerment.

With equal interest from both women and men in playing volleyball, a gender-balanced fanbase, equal prize money and increasingly equal opportunities in the administration of the sport, volleyball stands out as the most gender-equal team sport globally.

Competitions

Across all major FIVB volleyball and beach volleyball competitions, female volleyball players receive equal prize money and compete under the same format as their male counterparts, emphasising the FIVB’s efforts in continuing to champion equality in the sport. Importantly, these measures help to foster a sense of belonging within the volleyball community where players, coaches and fans alike feel heard, valued and respected, regardless of gender.

The women’s volleyball team from Türkiye celebrate their victory at the 2023 VNL Finals

Equal Jersey

In 2021, Volleyball World, the commercial entity for the sport, launched the world’s first Equal Jersey campaign at the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2021 Finals. The ongoing campaign sees male and female players who share the same jersey number proudly wear each other’s names on their jerseys. This initiative aims to celebrate the sport's status as a global leader in gender equality.

Italian volleyball player, Paola Egonu, participating in the Equal Jersey campaign

 

The FIVB Board of Administration

Off the court, the FIVB remains committed to promoting gender equality within its Board of Administration. By the FIVB World Congress 2024, the Constitution will require a minimum of eight female members, marking a significant step towards increased gender representation. This progressive change builds upon key decisions made in 2021 and 2022. Furthermore, the 2022 Congress passed a resolution mandating that each Confederation include at least one woman in its constitutional quota positions.

The FIVB Board of Administration following a meeting in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in June 2023

 

FIVB Athletes’ Commission

Leading the way in equal gender representation is the FIVB’s Athletes’ Commission, which stands at the heart of the sport.

In 2021, a retired Dutch beach volleyball player, Madelein Meppelink was elected as the Athletes’ Commission President, and for the first time ever, was consequently appointed to the FIVB Board of Administration with full Board member rights. It is paramount that the sports’ administration bodies are diverse and representative and that women are given an equal voice in the decision-making processes.

FIVB Athletes’ Commission President, Madelein Meppelink, competing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

 

Continental Confederations

Further, two of the five serving FIVB Continental Confederation Presidents are female. Morocco’s Bouchra Hajij and Indonesia’s Rita Subowo hold the positions of President of the African and Asian Continental Confederations respectively, marking the first time ever that a woman has held either of these positions.

Bouchra Hajij and Rita Subowo, President of the African and Asian Continental Confederations respectively, with FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F°

 

Speaking about the importance of gender equality in the sport, FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F° said:

“International Women’s Day serves as a powerful reminder of the invaluable contributions and achievements of women in volleyball and beyond. Volleyball is a global sport with millions of participants and fans worldwide, and we are proud to be leading by example when it comes to gender equality. By further promoting gender equality within our sport and its leadership bodies, we hope that volleyball inspires broader societal changes where women and girls are given equal opportunities to excel.”