The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has taken a step towards its vision of realising one billion global members with the appointment of Gambian sports leader and International Olympic Committee member, Beatrice Allen, to vice-president of the world governing body.
The move raises the composition of the WBSC's Executive Board to four out of 13 females, or 31 per cent, and follows their recent signing of the International Working Group Brighton Plus Helsinki Declaration on Women and Sport.
IOC guidelines set a target for at least 20 per cent of decision-making positions to be occupied by women.
Allen was among four new members appointed to the WBSC Executive Board.
"The WBSC is honoured and excited to welcome an experienced and distinguished world sports leader like Beatrice Allen as new WBSC Vice President," said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.
"Her knowledge and expertise, from world issues like women in sport and diplomacy to development in Africa, will be a major asset to the WBSC Executive Board and our federation as a whole, as we aim to evolve baseball and softball into a one billion-member global sport over the next decade and retain Olympic-status in 2024, 2028 and into the foreseeable future.
"The WBSC and our 202 National Federations and Associate members across 143 countries have never been as strong, ready, or in a better position to realise this shared global vision."
Allen helped introduce softball in Gambia and spearheaded the establishment of the Gambia Softball Association, where she served as President and remains Honorary President.
Allen has also served in various high-ranking sports leadership roles, including chairperson of the Women and Sports section of the Association of the National Olympic Committees of Africa, first vice-president of Gambia's National Olympic Committee, and in various IOC Commissions, including being a member of the Coordination Commission for the Games of the Rio 2016 Games and the IOC Women in Sport Commission.
Allen said: "WBSC under President Fraccari is very serious about baseball and softball's international expansion and about the role women can and must play if the vision is to be realised.
"That's why it's a welcome honour, privilege and responsibility for me to take on this new global challenge with WBSC.
"I am particularly motivated to work with President Fraccari and the other distinguished members of the WBSC Executive Board to break down barriers and achieve historic new milestones in baseball and softball, and in world sport."
In June 2011 Allen was one of three high ranking officials of The Gambia National Olympic Committee acquitted and discharged after facing theft charges which were dropped by the prosecution at Kanifing Magistrates’ Court.
The WBSC has also appointed Panama's Meliton Sanchez, an IOC Honorary Member, as the WBSC Global Ambassador for Softball, alongside WBSC Global Ambassador for Baseball, Antonio Castro of Cuba, son of former Cuban leader Fidel.
Guatemalan IOC Executive Board member Willi Kaltschmitt will continue serving as one of two WBSC vice-presidents, alongside Allen.
Baseball Federation of Asia leader, Tom Peng, will serve as the new Baseball Executive vice-president, while USA Softball's Craig Cress will serve on the WBSC Executive Board as the new Softball executive vice-president.
The first meeting of the new WBSC Executive Board is scheduled for March 2018 in Paris.