“The (IPC Governing Board) election showed to us, however, that although we have made great progress since the Women in Sport Committee was formed in 2002, much work still needs to be done.”
International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven spoke at the EU Conference on Gender Equality in Sport in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday (3 December) – a day known worldwide as the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The conference centred around calls for strategic actions across sport governing bodies in order to accelerate progress on gender equality in sport and included panel members from the EU, IOC, IPC, National Olympic Committees and other various governing bodies.
In his speech, Sir Philip highlighted the steady growth in female participation at the Paralympic Games.
Sir Philip said: “Since 2002, when the IPC established a Women in Sport Committee, the IPC has made gender equality a strategic choice and has made great strides improving gender equality both on and off the field of play.
“By the 2016 summer Games in Rio the number of women taking part in the Paralympics will have doubled in the last 20 years. In Atlanta in 1996, 790 women – equating to 24 per cent of athletes – took part in the Games, whilst at Rio 2016 that number is set to rise to 1,650 – roughly 38 per cent of all athletes.
“In Rio, women will also compete in 43 per cent of all medal events, a 12 per cent increase on London 2012.”
He also discussed the IPC’s aims to develop female leadership within the Paralympic Movement and to create partnerships with relevant organisations to help further progress gender equality.
“The (IPC Governing Board) election showed to us, however, that although we have made great progress since the Women in Sport Committee was formed in 2002, much work still needs to be done,” he said.
“This was highlighted by the fact that just four of the 27 candidates who stood for election were women. Clearly more needs to be done to improve gender equality across the whole Paralympic Movement in terms of female leadership within the Movement.
“That is why next year the Agitos Foundation, the IPC’s development arm, is launching a pilot mentoring programme called WoMentoring which targets Europe and aims to develop stronger female leadership within the Paralympic Movement.
“Up to 15 mentors will team-up with 15 mentees and the aim is develop the leaders and coaches of tomorrow.”
Also during the conference, retired wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands gave an interview testimonial regarding her views on gender equality in Paralympic sport.