Submission to the OHCHR on women and girls in sport

IHRA has made a formal submission to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in response to a questionnaire seeking information to fulfil its mandate in Human Rights Council resolution 40/5 on the elimination of discrimination against women and girls in sport.

In considering our responses, we respect the focus of the inquiry on women and girls. We draw attention to the IAAF ‘Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athletes with Differences of Sexual Development)’ (International Association of Athletics Federations 2019). These regulations directly impact a subset of women with intersex variations in certain competitive sports, including those with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome, ovotestes, 5α‐reductase type 2 deficiency (5α-RD2), and 17β‐hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 3 deficiency (17β‐HSD3). Only a small subset of athletics events is directly impacted by these regulations. We note that the 2019 regulations are differentiated from 2018 regulations challenged by Caster Semenya before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (2019) by the omission of congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

We also draw attention to systemic issues of stigmatisation, discrimination and harmful practices. It is the view of IHRA that regulations governing the participation of women with intersex variations in sport are not only grounded in gender stereotypes but also racialised, with particular scrutiny of racialised women from low income regions, and racialised notions of femininity (Karkazis and Jordan-Young 2018; Carpenter 2019). At the same time, we note that children with intersex variations in high income countries like Australia are routinely subjected to harmful practices that impact on their participation in sport.

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