8 March 2018

In Ancient Greece, women were considered as bearers of misfortune. They indeed didn’t attend the Olympic Games.

In the modern world, women’s rise in the Olympic Movement was no picnic, and Pierre De Coubertin was always opposed to it.

However, inch by inch, things have changed. Little reminder:

It wasn’t until 1900 that women participated for the first time at the Olympic Games in Paris, France. 22 female athletes (2.2 %) on a total of 997 athletes competed in 5 sports: tennis, sailing, croquet, horse riding and golf.

In 1928 the participation of women at the Olympic Games reached almost 10%.

30 years later at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games, more than 20% of participants were women.

In 1981, Ms Flor Isava-Fonseca and Ms Pirjo Haeggman became the first women to be appointed IOC Members.

In 1990, Ms Flor Isava Fonseca was the first woman to be elected IOC Executive Committee Member.

In 1991, the IOC made an historic decision: all new sports to be included in the Olympic Programme must involve female competitions.

In 1995, the IOC created a working group on women and sport responsible for advising the Executive Board on the right policies to be implemented in the field of Gender Equality.

In 1996, the first IOC International Conference on Women and Sport took place in Lausanne, Switzerland. Several recommendations were made, especially “that IFs and NOCs create special committees or working groups that have at least the 10% women”, in order to trigger an action plan promoting women in sport.

In 2014, women represented the 40 % of participants at the Olympic Winter Games. In Europe the EOC founded the Commission for Gender Equality in Sport.

To date, 11 European women are IOC Members.

This year at PyeongChang 2018, for the first time at a Winter Olympic Games, the number of female competitors was almost the same as that of males, with women representing a record 43% of all athletes, as remarked by the IOC.

Still in these Winter Olympics, female athletes benefited from unprecedented media exposure. A pilot project was launched to better facilitate a balanced TV coverage of men’s and women’s events.

This project follows 25 recommendations approved by the IOC Executive Committee as well as a global review of Gender Equality in the Olympic Movement.

Avoiding prejudices and sexist stereotypes is thus an effect of the key actions proposed by the working group in charge of Gender Equality, led by IOC Member Marisol Casado.

It has been a long Journey… and there is still a long road ahead!