Independent Council on Women’s Sports Uplifts the Voice of Female Athletes With 2023 International Summit


From July 21 to 23, the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) and the International Consortium on Female Sport (ICFS) Will Convene Their International Women’s Sports Summit 2023

Washington, DC, July 20, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Press Release

Independent Council on Women’s Sports
Uplifts the Voice of Female Athletes with 2023 International Summit


DENVER — From July 21 to 23, the Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) and the International Consortium on Female Sport (ICFS) will convene their International Women’s Sports Summit 2023 at the Denver Marriott West hotel in Golden, Colorado, and via social media live stream to address a concerning trend. Imagine years of rigorously training for women’s competitions in a beloved sport — only to compete against a male athlete and lose. It’s the growing reality of female athletes across the US and internationally, as hard-won women’s spaces on the field, in the pool, in locker rooms and elsewhere increasingly disappear with the admittance of male athletes in the women’s sports category.

“Governing bodies and policymakers around the world must recognize women and girls of every age and every level of sport are worthy of fair treatment, respect, and equal opportunity,” says Kim Jones, an All-American tennis player and co-founder of ICONS. “It’s discriminatory and unjustifiable to ask any female athlete to give up her achievements in a category designed for her.”

ICONS seeks to expand, empower, and protect women’s sports and female athletes nationwide and abroad. Its mission is to create a powerful network of collegiate and professional female athletes and their allies to defend the original intent of Title IX, which upholds and preserves women’s rights to equal opportunity and fair play in their sex-based sports category.

Dr. Ross Tucker, a featured summit speaker with a PhD in Exercise Physiology, explains, “The biological differences between males and females are so large that unless we continue to defend the protection of the women’s sport category, those who do not possess that male advantage will basically disappear from sport.”

Open for public registration, anyone can attend and support this nonpartisan, one-of-a-kind summit uniting Olympians and world-class athletes; globally renowned experts in science, academia, and law; governing sports bodies, and various advocacy groups. The three-day program will feature 12 panels of star athletes, scientists, academics, doctors, and lawyers who will address sport-specific concerns surrounding male participation in women’s athletics. Hear expert perspectives from the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico, and Spain that highlight the current science-backed evidence for prioritizing fairness and safety by maintaining female-protected categories in athletics, as well as the psychological impact; human rights; law and policies of women’s sports; current court cases, and more.

“The international cycling federation is the latest international federation to uphold fair competition by implementing new and robust rules preventing women from being forced to compete against male individuals in elite international sport,” says sports law attorney Bill Bock, one of the summit speakers. “Now is the time for sport organizations and athletic federations on the national level to act with equal vigor to protect the rights and safety of young girls competing in grassroots sport.”

Despite protective measures emerging in some sports, there is still more work to be done. “In powerlifting, a judge in Minnesota has banned access to the sport for all athletes in the state because the national governing body refused to let men compete in women’s events,” says World Champion powerlifter Jade Dickens, another featured speaker. “This injustice is a grave warning for other sports as it now affects both women’s and men’s sports. Women will prevail but we must urgently stand up and speak out.”

To date, efforts to preserve the women’s category in sports have taken an emotional, mental, and physical toll on female athletes seeking fair play. “The NCAA Championships is the most prestigious meet in college swimming and women were being forced to change completely out of their clothing into tight tech suits next to a man,” says summit speaker Kylee Alons, a two-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) champion and 31-time All-American swimmer. “At the biggest meet of my life, I was completely on edge and uncomfortable,” she recalls. “The way that I handled it was to change in the storage closet. This can’t become the way of life for future female athletes.”

Met with criticism and threats, some athletes have also endured physical attacks when speaking up for themselves, such as the case of Riley Gaines, a 12-time All-American swimmer and Independent Women’s Voice (IWV) advisor who was held hostage in April on the campus of San Francisco State University. Gaines is among the summit’s roster of female athletes.

“After giving a speech about protecting women’s sports, I was ambushed and attacked by a mob,” says Gaines. “They pushed me into a room where I was barricaded for three hours. They demanded money from me if I wanted to make it home safely. This mob can’t persuade you with science or reason so they try to silence you. It only encourages me to keep talking; to be louder. When they want you quiet, it’s important to use your voice more.”

“Being afraid to speak is not freedom,” adds summit speaker Pamela Paresky, PhD Social Psychology. “Being untruthful is not kind. Being coerced is not consent. When women are subjected to psychological manipulation, they get the message that their feelings don’t matter, their accomplishments aren’t important, and they don’t count. This puts them at risk of developing low self-worth and being disempowered.”

Among many others, Fiona McAnena, director of sport at Fair Play for Women (UK), concludes the only solution to fair sports is a female-only category. “There is ample evidence that male advantage can’t be removed,” says McAnena. “We’re seeing some sports restoring fairness now, but many sports are still prioritizing male feelings over female reality. We thought it was a given that women deserved the same opportunities as men in sport, but we are having to fight for them all over again.”

Join us in lending your voice to women who have felt powerless in speaking up against the emergence of an uneven playing field within their own competitions. You can learn more and register for the international summit at or tune in to the live stream at

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For more information or questions, please contact Media inquiries and RSVP: [email protected].

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CONTACT: Marshi Smith Independent Council on Women's Sports 702-323-4516 [email protected] 

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