International Women's Day provides the Para powerlifting community across the world the chance to showcase and celebrate women’s progress and development in the sport.
At the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games, women's Para powerlifting events were added to the competition programme marking a historical moment in the sport.
Twenty years later, the number of female athletes has steadily risen – 99 per cent just in the last decade.
“Since I was a child, I loved lifting and wanted to prove that women [are] strong,” Indonesia’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist Ni Nengah Widiasih said.
This impact can also be felt in the host country of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
"The women’s categories are gaining more and more power, and we’re seeing the results with the athletes competing at the highest level," said Hisako Yoshida, from the Japanese Para Powerlifting Federation.
She Can Lift: women in Para powerlifting programme
In 2018, the "She Can Lift": Women in Para Powerlifting Programme was launched through the support of the Agitos Foundation to improve the gender equity not only in athletes but among coaches and technical officials.
Last year, the programme delivered women's only education courses across the Americas, Asia and Europe, directly certifying and empowering over 60 women.
“This is a great [opportunity] for women in Para powerlifting. The courses help candidates feel empowered, engaged and driven to change the sport," said Maria Milea, an educator who took part at the launch of the programme in Eger, Hungary.
Changing perceptions of gender roles
World Para Powerlifting Technical Committee has seen improvements in gender equity with a greater representation of women across different Advisory Groups.
"Each person brings different perspectives and experiences. This makes our sport even stronger," said Dóra Szatmári, World Para Powerlifting Head of Education and Development.
During a session at the Nur-Sultan 2019 World Junior Championships, the entire panel of referees and jury was made up of female Technical Officials.
"It was special when we all realised that," said Zita Gyerko, who recently led the Abuja 2020 World Cup as the Technical Delegate. "Women's involvement in the sport is growing in all roles."
The most recent World Cup in Manchester in February, athletes were supported by female spotter loaders, traditionally a male dominated role.
You can find more information about She Can Lift and World Para Powerlifting development initiatives here.