Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) will recognise the importance of gender diversity and equal opportunity in sport, and celebrate the achievements of its female Para-athletes and administrators.
Since commencing her role in August 2015, APC Chief Executive Lynne Anderson has been a driving force behind the APC’s support of national and international women in sport programs to promote gender equality.
Reflecting on the contributions of the athletes and administrators leading Australia’s success at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Lynne said:
“Under the direction of Australia’s first Paralympic female Chef de Mission Kate McLoughlin, the Australian Paralympic Team achieved incredible results in what was a very challenging environment.
“Both Kate and Australian Paralympic co-captain Daniela Di Toro were central to building a culture that was inclusive, supportive and ready to win,” Anderson said.
73 of the Rio 2016 Team’s 176 athletes were female (41.5 per cent), which was a higher female representation compared to the average of all nations (37.9 per cent).
Female athletes were also involved in winning 52.4 per cent of Australia’s medals at the Paralympic Games, up from 48.8 per cent at London 2012.
Among the highlights of Rio 2016 was golden girl Maddison Elliott’s performance in the pool. With a haul of two gold and three silver medals, she was Australia’s best performing athlete at the Games and equal 10th in the world.
Para-cyclist Jessica Gallagher was also a standout. After achieving a podium finish at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Paralympic Games, she won bronze in the women’s 1km time trial at Rio 2016 to become the first Australian athlete to medal at both a Summer and Winter Paralympic or Olympic Games.
Of all the outstanding performances in Rio, 55-year-old Para-cyclist Carol Cooke’s dual gold medal haul ranked among Anderson’s top sporting moments.
“One of the real highlights for me was Carol Cooke who, in winning Paralympic gold in both her events, proved to us all that gender, age and disability are no barrier to success on the global stage.”
Anderson is also proud of the direction in which the APC is moving as an organisation.
“At the APC we are proud of our gender balance. We promote a flexible working arrangement which has allowed us to attract and retain incredibly talented and experienced women, particularly those with young families,” she said.
On where she would like the discussion around women in sport to be in five years’ time, Anderson reflected:
“Faced with the challenge of navigating deeply rooted issues, it’s not going to be easy to achieve legitimate and effective change.
“But the tide has turned and it’s coming, wave after wave,” she added.
By APC Media