IOC President Thomas Bach believes the OCA "sent out a strong message" by staging its first-ever Gender Equity Seminar ©IOC

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has heaped praise on the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) for "leading by example" with efforts to enhance gender equality.

During a five-minute video message, Bach said that the OCA was "sending a strong message" by staging the first-ever Gender Equity Seminar here.

A total of 42 Asian National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are being represented at the two-day meeting staged at The Art Hotel and Resort in Bahrain capital Manama.

"One of our priorities is to promote women in and through sport," said Bach.

"This priority, anchored in the Olympic Charter, is at the heart of what the Olympic Games are all about because in sport everyone is equal.

"As sports organisations, we have an important responsibility to lead by example.

"With this seminar, OCA is doing exactly that - leading by example and sending a strong message of your commitment to advance gender equality throughout Asia.

"Gender equality is a basic human right of profound importance.

"It is also an integral part of good governance.

"In today’s world no organisation or country can afford to leave the skills of 50 per cent of the country behind, either in sports or society at large."

Bach said that the IOC was committed to "closing the gender gap", underlining the record 48 per cent female participation at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the quest for "full gender parity" at Paris 2024.

"Off the field of play, we are seeing progress as well," said Bach.

Acting OCA President Raja Randhir Singh insised that no NOC would be
Acting OCA President Raja Randhir Singh insised that no NOC would be "left behind" in its pushing for empowering women ©OCA

"As of this year, for the very first time in our history, an equal number of women and men will sit across the Commissions.

"Today, almost 40 per cent of IOC members are women.

"Beyond the IOC activities, we are sharing practical recommendations on how NOCs and IFs [International Federations] can promote gender equality within their remit.

"Gender equality does not just magically happen.

"To make progress we need a targeted strategy, deliberate policies and institutional commitment.

"This is why I’m very pleased to see how OCA through its Gender Equity Committee is already implementing the right strategies and policies.

"With your many initiatives, you are demonstrating the importance of grassroot strategies to drive change throughout Asia from the ground up.

"Your seminar is a great opportunity to build on this momentum."

Acting OCA President Raja Randhir Singh said his organisation was determined to create opportunities for women across Asia, insisting that no NOC will be "left behind in our efforts to empower women and create a level playing field."

"This ground-breaking seminar reflects the hard work of the OCA Gender Equity Committee, under the inspiring leadership of Sheikha Hayat bint Abdulaziz Al-Khalifa, in promoting and developing the women in sport movement throughout the continent," added Singh.

"This seminar will go a long way to highlighting the major issues facing the women in sport movement of today and it will also help delegates and NOCs overcome some of these challenges by working together and giving advice and support."