Women’s participation in the Olympic Games is in constant evolution.
It was during the 1970s that the increase of women participating in the Games became more significant, reflecting the stronger awareness of the positive contribution that sport can make to the well-being of women and the development of women's sports clubs and associations around the world.
New record in London
However, the most remarkable increase has taken place within the last two decades, and London set a new record for women’s participation in the Olympic Games: of the 10,568 athletes competing, 4,676 were women, which is more than 44 per cent.
With the inclusion of women’s boxing, the Games in London saw women competing for the first time in all the sports on the Olympic programme.
Increasing women’s participation
This positive trend goes back to the fact that the IOC expanded the programme of events open to women at the Olympic Games, in cooperation with the International Sports Federations and the Organising Committees. In 1991, it was decided that any new sport seeking to be included in the Olympic programme had to include women's events.
This progress is also the result of various national sports policies and of National Olympic Committees taking advantage of Olympic Solidarity programmes and scholarships aimed at athletes' development and assistance for coaches.
Graph of the development of women's participation in the Olympic Summer Games
Key figures linked to women's participation in the Olympic Games and new women’s sports on the Olympic programme
Learn more about women's participation in the London 2012 Games
Learn more about women’s participation in the Beijing 2008 Games
Learn more about women’s participation in the Athens 2004 Games