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08 Mar 2013
Women in Sport , IOC News , Olympism in action

Celebrating our sporting heroes on International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day, the IOC is celebrating its past, current and future female heroes at the Olympic Games. When women competed in the Olympic Games for the first time in 1900, they accounted for just 2 per cent of the competitors. Last year in London, this number had increased to 44 per cent and the journey is not over. Female athletes continue to inspire us every day through their sporting achievements and gestures of fair play. 

Making history in London

Women were truly at the forefront at the London 2012 Games, as they made history on and off the playing field and in their respective countries. With the inclusion of women’s boxing, a first in Olympic history, women were present in every sport, and reached a record 44.2 participation level. Women outnumbered men on 34 National Olympic Committee (NOC) teams, including some of the largest delegations. Another milestone was achieved when three NOC teams - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei Darussalam- included women in their teams for the first time. Now every NOC has sent female athletes to the Games.

Read more facts about the London Olympic Games here

Sport: a tool for promoting gender equality

Anita De Frantz, Chairwoman of the IOC Women and Sport Commission and an IOC member, will speak next week at the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations on the role of sport in the vitally important effort to eliminate and prevent violence against women and girls in the world.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Anita de Frantz said: “The Olympic Games have provided a global stage for women athletes to defy stereotypes since 1900. Women Olympians serve as powerful role models for young girls around the world, even those who do not intend to pursue a career in sport. They prove that women can overcome societal expectations and achieve their dreams despite the obstacles in their way. Some return from the Games as national heroes in countries that rarely celebrate the achievements of women.”

Recognising women in sport

Since 2000, the IOC has sought to recognise exceptional sports figures, decision-makers or organisations from every continent who contribute significantly to furthering the development, participation and involvement of women and girls in sport across the world. This year, the 2013 IOC Women and Sports Awards – five continental trophies and one world trophy – will be handed out on 2 July at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne. Learn more about the 49 candidates from all over the world for this prestigious award here.

Learn more about the IOC’s Women and Sport Awards

Learn more about the IOC’s activities to promote women and girls in and through sport

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