2023 IPC International Women’s Day Recognition awards winners revealed 

Women from Nigeria, Malta, Malawi, and World Para Ice Hockey recognised for serving as positive role models 08 Mar 2023
Female athletes in blue jersey are on the ice, while a female athlete in white jersey passes by.
World Para Ice Hockey (WPIH) launched the inaugural Women’s World Challenge.
ⒸJessie Dietzler/WPIH

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced the four outstanding winners of the 2023 International Women’s Day Recognition Awards on 8 March 2023.

Patience Igbiti from Nigeria (Leadership), Vladyslava Kravchenko from Malta (Emerging Leadership), Malawi National Paralympic Committee (National Paralympic Committee) and World Para Ice Hockey (International Federation) have each received the 2023 International Women’s Day Award. 

The Awards, which the IPC has been running since 2013, recognise women in the Paralympic Movement who inspire and emulate the Paralympic ideals and serve as positive role models. The winners were chosen by members of the IPC Governing Board following nominations from across the Paralympic membership.

Andrew Parsons, IPC President said: “The IPC has been running its International Women’s Day Awards for over a decade and every year we are hugely encouraged by the quality of the nominations.

“It is particularly important for the Paralympic Movement to have strong growth in female representation. In the last year alone the IPC Senior Executive Team has become 50 percent female and six of the 14 IPC Governing Board members are women. We are seeing more women in leadership positions amongst our members, where they are creating new platforms for female athletes, coaches, and officials to excel. 
“A huge well done to the winners for their well-deserved recognition, and a thank you to all of those who entered the awards. We are excited that there are so many female advocates from across the world making the Paralympic Movement more inclusive and opening new opportunities for women.”  


This category recognises sustained and consistent leadership over a period of time, advocacy, overall contributions, and impact promoting and supporting women in sport. Candidates considered for this category included coaches, current and former athletes, administrators, and officials.  

Winner - Patience Igbiti, Nigeria 

Nigeria Para powerlifting coach Patience Igbiti won the leadership category. @Hiroki Nishioka/WPPO

Known throughout the Para powerlifting community simply as “Coach Pat”, Patience Igbiti has been pushing for women’s inclusion in the sport in Africa and internationally for over thirty years. 

Starting her career as an athlete in 1990, she became Nigeria’s first female champion in Para powerlifting, a multi-Paralympic medallist and a six-time world record holder. After she retired from the sport, she become the first female coach in Nigeria’s history, and one of the first in Para powerlifting. 

Under Igbiti's leadership, Nigeria’s women have dominated Para powerlifting, winning 10 gold medals at her first Paralympic Games as a coach at London 2012, and 17 out of 60 medals at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Nigerian women currently hold four of the 10 Paralympic records, which is more than any other country. 

As a coach Igbiti has been a keen supporter of gender equity and has helped increase female representation in the sport in several ways. She has been a mentor for women from different countries and regions, and has been a leading advocate of World Para Powerlifting’s “She Can Lift” programme. In addition, she has blazed a trail as a technical official and administrator, while creating opportunities for women in her state and country by organising training camps and competitions. 


This category recognises early-stage career leadership, advocacy, overall contributions and impact promoting and supporting women in sport. Candidates considered for this category included coaches, current and former athletes, administrators, and elected officials.  

Winner - Vladyslava Kravchenko, Malta 

Vladyslava Kravchenko of Malta won the emerging leadership category. @IPC

Vladyslava Kravchenko has been creating waves in and out of the water over the last decade. In 2015 she was selected by the European Paralympic Committee for the Youth Ambassadors programme to raise awareness about the Paralympic Movement in Europe. She visited schools and spoke about the benefits of Para sport on various platforms including the European Youth Sport Forum.

The following year, at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, she became the first female swimmer, and the first female athlete since 1980 to represent Malta at the Paralympic Games. In 2017, she received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of her work in Para sport in her community. 

Kravchenko has become a leading advocate for persons with disabilities in Malta. She was appointed by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Malta to a Steering Committee, which set up the first formal legal structure of the National Paralympic Committee and Athletes’ Council. She co-authored the National Para Sport Strategy 2019–2029 for Malta’s Ministry of Education and Employment.
A certified public accountant who recently graduated with a master's degree in sport management, politics and international development from Loughborough University, Kravchenko co-founded a youth-led NGO, Malta Youth Athletes Network. The organisation brings together active and former athletes to develop local sport through collaborative projects and advocacy initiatives.

As part of this work, the organisation supported the implementation of I’mPOSSIBLE in Malta and reached more than 900 students in the first year. Kravchenko was the athletes’ representative on the first elected Executive Committee of the Malta Paralympic Committee and currently holds the position of Treasurer. 


This category recognises the leadership, impact and effective change initiated by National Paralympic Committees (NPCs) that promote and support equality and inclusion of women in sport.  

Winner - NPC Malawi 

Malawi's Taonele Banda competed at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. @Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Over the last four years the Malawi National Paralympic Committee has been exemplary in delivering change and effectively promoting inclusion. In 2018 NPC Malawi was one of the beneficiaries of programmes that the IPC and African Paralympic Committee delivered together about the importance of developing African women in leadership. NPC Malawi had no female representatives on its Board at the time.  

NPC Malawi's guiding principle was the UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 5 on gender equality, where women and men have equal opportunities on the Board. There has been a conscious effort to train women working in their respective fields, ranging from technical officials, coaches, and administrators.

Another key initiative was promoting to female athletes, coaches, or officials that if a female athlete had a male coach and they would prefer female support then this should try and be delivered. 

The culmination of NPC Malawi’s inclusion drive came at their board elections in 2022 when three women were elected to the decision-making positions of General Secretary, Treasurer, and committee member. The board of NPC Malawi now has equal representation of women and men, signifying the accomplishment of UNSDG Number 5.


This category recognises the leadership, impact and effective change initiated by International Federations (IFs) that promote and support equality and inclusion of women in sport.  

Winner - World Para Ice Hockey 

The inaugural Women’s World Challenge took place in Green Bay, USA, on 26-28 August 2022. @Jessie Dietzler/WPIH

World Para Ice Hockey (WPIH) had a landmark year in the development of the sport among female athletes, coaches, and officials. After recognising the gender gap in athlete participation, WPIH shared with its members the WPIH Women’s Development Pathway in June 2021. The goal of the pathway being to add a women’s event in Para ice hockey at the Paralympic Winter Games.  

To reach this goal, WPIH has set milestones for the 2022-2026 cycle. The first milestone was to host recognised competitions in 2022, 2023 and 2024 and to have the first-ever Women’s World Championships in 2025.  

As part of the newly launched PARA SPORT programme, WPIH created a new property and partnered with Citi to launch the inaugural Women’s World Challenge. This took place in Green Bay, USA on 26-28 August 2022. As a direct result, the number of licensed women went from three in 2021 to 71 in 2022, and 61 of them participated in the tournament. Three national teams (Canada, Great Britain, USA) and combined team made up of athletes from eight countries competed in the three-day event. A total of 54 athletes were classified. Outside the field of play, the event had an all-women officiating crew with one technical delegate, eight on-ice officials, and one result manager.  

World Para Ice Hockey created a tournament that showcased the sport while also attracting new athletes to the ice and establishing a long-term pipeline to grow the game.  


2022 - Oripa Mubika (Leadership), Yip Pin Xiu (Emerging Leadership), and Paralympics New Zealand (National Paralympic Committee/International Federation)  

2021 - Kate Caithness (Leadership), Zahra Nemati (Emerging Leadership), and World Para Powerlifting (NPC/IF)  

2020 - Paulina Malinowska-Kowalczyk (Builder), Maha Bargouthi (Next Generation) and Paralympics Australia (NPC/IF)  

2019 – Deepa Malik  

2018 – Dr. Hayat Khattab  

2017 – Dr. Cheri Blauwet  

2016 – Carla Qualtrough  

2015 – Chantal Petitclerc  

2014 – Rima Batalova  

2013 – Sylvana Mestre