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Women in the starting blocks


March 8 is International Women’s Day, and as it does every year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will use this occasion to honour personalities who have been outstanding in promoting the participation of women in sport – be it on or off the field of play.

Five women honoured
This year, the IOC will certainly be the first organisation to celebrate women, revealing the winners of the IOC Women and Sport Awards on 5 March 2009 at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne. Each of the winners has contributed to the promotion of women and girls as well as their societies through sport. Among them will be two Olympians who have gone on to be inspirational role models and achieved as much off the field as they did as sportspersons by inspiring and serving other women and girls.

Towards parity at the Games
The IOC has made women’s participation in sport and their involvement in sports administration one of its priorities, with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women. For IOC President Jacques Rogge, it remains vital to continue using every opportunity in the Olympic Movement to advance the cause of women in and through sport. And the Olympic Games are the perfect platform to provide these chances – on both levels of competition and leadership. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games saw a surge in women’s participation, with just over 42 per cent - a clear sign that we are moving closer to men and women competing in even numbers on the world’s greatest sporting stage. However, the immediate challenge facing the IOC Women and Sport Commission is certainly to see to it that more women are elected to decision-making positions. And that should be one of the discussions at the 2009 Olympic Congress.

Since 2000, an award to celebrate women in sport
In 2000, the IOC decided to create the IOC Women and Sport Award on the occasion of the centenary of women’s participation in the Olympic Games. The winners from across the globe are selected annually by the IOC Women and Sport Commission, chaired by IOC member Anita L. DeFrantz. The trophy is awarded to an individual, an institution or an organisation that has worked to develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls in physical and sports activities, in coaching or in administrative and decision-making structures, as well as for the promotion of female journalists and women’s sport in and through the media.


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