As with most major sporting organisations, the IPC aims to increase the number of women sitting on its boards and to encourage its National Paralympic Committees to follow suit. In the IPC Women in Sport Leadership Toolkit published in 2010, they noted;
“there is a low representation of females in leadership positions in Paralympic sport. Achieving equality on the sport field of play is a main priority. However, addressing the conspicuous lack of representation of women in leadership positions is also a major focus. The IPC General Assembly adopted a motion to strive for women to hold 30 percent of leadership positions in all IPC, NPC, International Organizations of Sport for the Disabled and sport decision-making structures by 2009.”
Their ‘suggestions’ to create equality in Paralympic leadership positions included to:
- Promote positive images of women in leadership positions to break down societal stereotypes;
- Inform and educate women about the types of opportunities that exist for leadership;
- Provide opportunities for women to attend leadership trainings and workshops.
Part of the idea of workshops and training included the launch of the ‘WoMentoring’ in May 2014 with 16 mentees and 16 mentors. The project recognised ‘the importance of gender diversity, the need to support organisations to improve performance, access the widest talent pool, be more responsive to the market and achieve better corporate governance’.
6 years on from the above statement and the published tool kit and with the ‘WoMentoring’ Programme coming to an end in February 2016, has the IPC achieved its aim of 30% of women on its own boards and within the NPC’s….No it hasn’t.
The current IPC board looks like this; there are 15 members, 3 of whom are women. This equates to a total of 21.4%
In the ‘Gender Balance in Global Sport Report’ published in 2014, it was revealed that the average percentage of women on NPC boards were 27.5%
Whilst you may be thinking we are being picky over minor numbers complaining that the targets haven’t hit an exact 30% as they are 27.5%, in this instant, numbers really do matter. If you look at the table above, the average number has only been saved by countries at the top such as Sweden and San Marino, who are carrying the appalling low numbers set by countries such as Great Britain, Australia and China. 4 countries on the list don’t even have 1 single female representative – India, Switzerland, Ecuador and Israel.
As for the percentages of female coaches, that we are yet to establish and will hopefully find out more once the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games are over, but it looks like it may be another mixed bag. At the London 2012 Paralympics, numbers ranges widely from countries and sports:
Norwegian Paralympic team
16 male coaches / managers
7 female coaches / managers
GB Paralympic Track & Field Team
8 male coaches / managers
6 female coaches / managers
Irish Paralympic team
23 male coaches / managers
9 female coaches / managers