On March 8th of this year, the world celebrated International Women’s Day. This has become a highly recognized day of celebration throughout the world to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women.

Over the past year, Olympic Weightlifting and its governing bodies have taken steps to facilitate greater female participation and representation in the sport. In September of 2016, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) approved a 90KG weight category for women, which evened out the weight categories at an equal number for men and woman at 8 apiece. At last year’s IWF Congress, the IWF Constitution and By-Laws were amended and approved by both the Executive Board and Congress to provide a minimum of two positions solely for Women in the leadership of the IWF, one being a Vice President and the other an Executive Board member position.

On March 6th through the 8th, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hosted their 2nd Annual Women in Leadership Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland. Over 65 representatives from National and International Federations and National Olympic Committees were brought to Olympic Headquarters to discuss the topic of gender equality. The sport of Weightlifting was represented by IWF President Dr. Tamas Ajan, along with USA Weightlifting (USAW) President Ursula Papandrea, Moira Lassen of Canada, the first female IWF Executive Board Member in the 108 history of the federation, and Chinen Reiko of Japan, an IWF Technical Official and the Sport Manager for Weightlifting in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The three-day event combined training and mentoring sessions by experts in the area of gender equality as well as panel discussions. Dr. Ajan was asked to speak during one of these panel discussions by the IOC on the topic of translating policies into practice – a framework to inspire change.

This year’s gathering was aimed at identifying concrete measures to increase development opportunities and the recruitment of women in decision-making positions at all levels of sport, including management, coaching, and officiating. These objectives are all in line with the IOC Executive Board’s decision in December of last year to achieve a minimum target of 30% of women in leadership roles by 2020. The IOC feels that the forum is a unique opportunity to help prepare a large number of women in middle and senior management positions throughout international sports organizations to successfully stand for election.

At the most recent Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, women accounted for 45% of all athletes who participated across Olympic sports, and the IOC has expressed hope that ratio will continue to move closer to 50%. Fifty-one nations who participated at the Olympic Games had more women than men in their Olympic delegations; this included the United States and Canada.

Featured image: IWF.net

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