Ayikoru advocates for more women in leadership

Ayikoru is an advocate for women. PHOTO/COURTSEY 

What you need to know:

Since 2019, the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) general secretary Ayikoru is currently serving as a member of the World Athletics Council. 

At every major local and global athletics competition, female and male competitors are usually guaranteed the same events.

Where there is a 100m race final for the men, so will be for the women. However, this kind of equality is not witnessed in the boardroom.

Uganda administrator Beatrice Ayikoru is hoping that she can see more women particularly from Uganda to take up more roles at the upper echelons of the adored sport.

“I don’t want to enter a room and immediately start judging the faces they are less on this and less on that, no,” Ayikoru said in an interview in the celebration of the World

Athletics’ annual Women’s Week (March 6-12), a week dedicated to celebrating all things about women in athletics.

Since 2019, the Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) general secretary Ayikoru is currently serving as a member of the World Athletics Council. 

“I would like to go to a Council room or meeting room and just be like in the stadium. When I enter the stadium, I know there are going to be boys and girls in the competition so that one doesn’t happen to me. That’s what I would like to see, that there are going to be men and women just like they are on track.”

World Athletics plans to increase the number of women on the World Athletics Council from eight members currently to a minimum of 10 members, including at least one female vice president at the Council elections in August 2023.

“We are happy to lead the way on gender equity initiatives and set the example for other International Federations. However, it is important that all of our stakeholders take an active role in helping us achieve our collective goals in this area,” said World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.

Overall, women will represent 40 percent of the World Athletics’ Council. Ayikoru has been part of the World Athletics gender leadership task force formed in 2017 to see an increase of women in the top levels of administration but the goal is bigger.

“While we are equal on track, on road, we were not equal in leadership and in other areas like officiating so we came up with a strategy to ensure how we are able to achieve 50-50 to ensure that gender parity works in the sport,” she said.

However, to achieve this objective by the next 2027 elective assembly could be a challenge if some bottlenecks are not addressed.

“If the member federations don’t consider provisions for some kind of affirmative action, it will be difficult,” the former 10000m and marathon national record holder Ayikoru stated.

“From the African perspective, women are assigned gender roles. In our sport, women are in the call room. Are they at the starting line? Where are they? Yet, they do exist.

“There is a ceiling and to get out to be counted among the men is not easy, even at World Athletics. We’ve never awarded different prize money but the challenge is in decision making and that is where we want to change the mind set,” she added.

During the week celebrations, World Athletics has now pledged to increase the tally of female coaches at the World Championships to at least 20 percent by the Tokyo 2025 edition in Japan.

This will involve providing a learning pathway in countries where women are underrepresented at the coaching level. Already, the global body’s Gender Leadership Taskforce has partnered with the IOC Female Coaching Leadership Programme to skill female coaches ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“We are around 30 percent (women) in the federation (UAF). I would like to see more women in our executive committee, in our Council and even coaches. The more female coaches we have, the more comfort parents have that their children will be safe and that’s how we will grow our sport,” noted Ayikoru.

Ayikoru further announced that UAF will announce a new safeguarding policy for women. 


World Athletics administration

World Athletics Council Member (2019-2023)

Athletics administration:

General Secretary, Uganda Athletics Federation

Deputy Director for Development in Africa

Former member of IAAF Cross Country Committee

Member of IAAF task force for gender leadership


Vice President Technical, Uganda Olympic Committee (2017-2021)

Secretary for Uganda Sports Women Association, (1998-2000)

Chef de Mission XXI Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast 2018, Australia

Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Japan