After a record number of nominations, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced the five women who have been shortlisted for the 2018 International Women’s Day Recognition Award which will be announced on International Women’s Day on 8 March, exactly one day before the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony.
To create the shortlist, all IPC members were invited to nominate someone who they felt embodies the spirit of the Paralympics and who inspires women within it. The shortlist was then compiled by members of the IPC’s Women in Sport Committee, Chairperson Rita van Driel, and three-time Paralympic champion hand cyclist and alpine skiing Paralympic medallist Muffy Davis. The winner will now be voted on by the full committee.
The nominees are:
Esther Vergeer (NED) - Retired from wheelchair tennis in 2013 after winning eight Paralympic medals, seven of them gold, and with an unbeaten winning streak of 470 matches. Her achievements as a wheelchair tennis player helped raise the profile of her sport and the Paralympic Movement. She founded the Esther Vergeer Foundation to give younger people with an impairment the opportunity to enjoy wheelchair sports.
Dr. Hayat Khattab (EGY) – Became the first women to be named President of the Egyptian Paralympic Committee in 2015. With the position, she has been able to set strategic plans and implement them. She led efforts to form the first women’s sitting volleyball team went on to claim silver at the African Championships in Rwanda.
Mina Mojtahedi (FIN) – Former multi-talented athlete who competed in athletics and wheelchair curling at the Paralympics, as well as in wheelchair basketball. She carried over her athletic career to the decision-making table as chairman of the board in Finnish Paralympic Committee. Mina also works as a Disability Inclusion Coordinator at International Committee of the Red Cross.
Sarah Storey (GBR) – The seven-time Paralympian with 14 Paralympic gold medals and 29 world titles from two sports co-owns her own UCI Women’s team with her husband. The team supports and develops women who would not otherwise race at that level, integrating Para athletes into the team and supporting their development. Storey also set up a cycling club for riders of all ages and abilities, and the club assists in further developing young women into the sport.
Zahra Nemati (IRI) – Changed the view of women in Iranian society with her archery achievements that include two Paralympic titles and three world titles, most recently from the 2017 World Championships in Beijing, China. She was the first Iranian women to win a Paralympic or Olympic medal. As a pioneer and role model, the influence she exerted over Iranian women during the past years has been substantial.
The United Nations International Women’s Day takes place annually and sees organisations, groups and individuals marking the day with special events to raise awareness of the role of women in society.
Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.