The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) made history today at the 2015 IOC Women in Sport Awards ceremony, when it became the first National Olympic Committee (NOC) to be named World Winner.
During the ceremony at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, the NZOC took home the World Winner trophy for its long-standing efforts promoting women in sport that have resulted in strong female representation on its Board, within its senior management and on its Olympic teams.
The NZOC has long been at the forefront of championing change to ensure that women have a prominent role in sport, on and off the field of play. Particular attention has been paid to increasing the number of women representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games and in decision-making and leadership positions, not only within the NOC, but also in other sports organisations in the country.
In Lausanne to receive the trophy, Kereyn Smith, Secretary General of the NZOC, said she was delighted to come from a nation where sport is playing a role in creating gender balance. She said: “We know that, through sport, women can both build and demonstrate the same qualities that also make great leaders – we have been working hard to strengthen and promote this link.”
Smith added: “We believe gender balance leads to better decision-making, better organisations and ultimately a better society.”
Cathy Freeman, one of Australia’s most successful and admired Olympic champions, was named the continental winner for Oceania for her outstanding work making a difference to young Australians through the Cathy Freeman Foundation (CFF) and supporting other community and charitable activities.
Joining Freeman as this year’s continental winners were Mervat Hassan (Africa), Sara Rosario (Americas), Sheikha Hayat Bint Abdulaziz Al-Khalifa (Asia), and Stavroula Kozompoli (Europe). All five have played key roles in increasing the participation of women in sport, including in administration and leadership positions, in their respective regions. For more information on the winners, the Awards and the IOC Women in Sport Commission, click here.
IOC Women in Sport Commission Chair Lydia Nsekera congratulated the winners for their achievements and said: “We have winners from all continents but they all have something in common. They all want to make the world a better place through sports. On and off the field of play they are working together to make sure that through sports women can play an important role. We still have a long road to travel. But working together we will get there. ”
Today’s ceremony was also a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the IOC Women in Sport Commission. For two decades, the Commission has fostered gender equality and the strengthening of women’s participation in, and through, sport. The Commission’s efforts have helped to steadily increase women’s participation in the world of Olympic sport and raise awareness about gender equality in sport worldwide.
IOC President Thomas Bach praised the excellent work of the Commission performed over the last two decades and said gender equality went beyond being simply a “women’s issue.” "Women have always been truly inspirational role models. Sport is a powerful platform for gender equality to empower women and girls. This is one of the reasons why in Olympic Agenda 2020 we are underscoring the call for stronger gender equality.” He added: “Gender equality is part of good governance in any organization whether an International Federation, a National Olympic Committee or in the IOC itself."
The IOC President underlined the steps the IOC was taking under Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, with regard to gender equality. He noted the important milestones made already this year: complete gender equality for the first time on an Olympic programme at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018; specific mention in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of the role of sport in contributing to the empowerment of women; and IOC cooperation with UN Women to support the “One Win Leads to Another” initiative using sports programmes to empower 2,500 girls aged 12 to 14 in the State of Rio de Janeiro.
Earlier in the day, Sarah Walker (NZL), BMX silver medallist at the Olympic Games London 2012, provided a free BMX demonstration to the public at The Olympic Museum. She also donated her tracksuit for display at The Museum.
The candidature procedure for the 2016 edition of the IOC Women in Sport Awards is already open. The IOC invites all National Olympic Committees, International Federations and continental associations to put forward a person or association active in promoting gender equality and women in sport in their country. The deadline for submissions is 15 December 2015. To find out more about the 2016 edition, click here.