The Global Observatory for Women, Sport, Physical Education and Physical Activity announces athlete rights advocate Payoshni Mitra as Chief Executive Officer
This appointment marks a crucial step towards establishing the first-ever Global Observatory for the promotion of gender equality and inclusion in and through sport.
Lausanne, Switzerland, 27 January 2022 – The Global Observatory for Women, Sport, Physical Education and Physical Activity (hereafter: The Global Observatory) has appointed Dr Payoshni Mitra as its first Chief Executive Officer. In the process of establishing its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Global Observatory aims to create a coherent global movement for all girls and women in sport and promote gender equality in and through sport.
Dr Payoshni Mitra is a gender and sport scholar, a prominent athlete rights advocate, and a leading campaigner in the abolition of sex testing policies in women’s sport. She has more than a decade-long experience of working closely with women athletes across Asia and Africa to enable them to address human rights violations in sports. Her advocacy work on inclusion and non-discrimination in sport has influenced important social, institutional, and structural changes on an international scale.
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) welcomes the appointment of Dr Payoshni Mitra. With her expertise and experience, the FDFA is confident that the Global Observatory will contribute to the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals in and through sport.
Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO): “In a world where women’s and girl’s rights continue to be curtailed, the promotion of women and sports is a fantastic way forward to increase self-confidence and autonomy. This is why UNESCO is investing in this and partnering with the Swiss authorities to launch the Global Observatory for women and sports. Today, we celebrate the appointment of the CEO of the Observatory. We are confident that the Observatory will benefit greatly from Dr Payoshni Mitra’s experience in the field of sport and human rights. We look forward to working with her to make women count in sports and sports count for women.”
With her research and advocacy work, Dr Mitra has been able to help athletes win legal cases on complex gender issues on more than one occasion. She was instrumental in assisting Indian athlete Dutee Chand to regain her rights to compete in athletics and was one of the ten-member team who testified for South African Olympian Caster Semenya at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Speaking of her appointment, Dr Payoshni Mitra said: “I am both humbled and proud to join the Global Observatory, where I look forward to putting to good use my years of advocacy and research work as well as my own experience as an athlete who dropped out after experiencing abuse. Gender equality is a fundamental human right, and the Global Observatory will build on the already existing gender and sport movement across the world to continue pushing for progress. As we look to rebuild following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, inclusion, equal opportunities, and non-discrimination in and through sport will be central to the Global Observatory’s work.”
A former badminton player, coach, and Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (SYLFF) Fellow from Jadavpur University, India, Dr Mitra taught Sport Sociology at Birkbeck, University of London, UK, and is a Director and Trustee at the Geneva-based Center for Sport & Human Rights.
About The Global Observatory
In July 2021, it was announced that the first-ever Global Observatory for Women, Sport, Physical Education and Physical Activity was being established in the Olympic Capital Lausanne, Switzerland. In collaboration with UNESCO, the Swiss Confederation appointed the City of Lausanne, the Canton of Vaud, and the University of Lausanne (UNIL) to ensure the necessary conditions for its creation. Today, the three entities, which consequently united and co-founded
an association, are putting in place the foundations to render the Global Observatory operational, and the appointment of a leadership marks a crucial step towards that goal.
The Global Observatory is a direct result stemming from the Kazan Action Plan adopted in 2017 by the International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS) of UNESCO. It aims to overcome global and systemic inequalities to achieve gender equality and empower girls and women in all their diversity in and through sport.
Payoshni Mitra, Appointed CEO
Global Observatory for Women, Sport, Physical Education and Physical Activity
Mélanie Duparc, President
Nadia Bonjour, Communications and PR