Webinar on Women in Paralympic Sports in the Middle East and Asia held
In a follow-up to a workshop held in Tokyo in September 2019, the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) along with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Japan Paralympic Committee (JPC) and Japan Sports Council (JSC) held a virtual seminar on the second day of the 5th ASIA Congress.
Entitled “Women in Paralympic Sports in the Middle East and Asia”, the online seminar focused on the activities undertaken by the NPCs over the past 18 months including initiatives undertaken during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Four of the 11 NPCs who participated in initial workshop took part in the seminar held last week and outlined their efforts to promote female athletes in their respective countries.
APC President Mr. Majid Rashed and Mr. Koji Murofushi, Commissioner of Japan Sports Agency made the welcome remarks and were followed by the session’s Keynote Speech which was delivered by Ms. Rita van Driel, IPC Women in Sport Committee Chairperson. In her presentation on “Women in Leadership”, she outlined the figures from the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games which demonstrated the need to increase the number of female athletes, especially in the nations who send small teams to the Games. She gave examples of the work that the IPC Women in Sport committee is undertaking and highlighted how important regional delivery is, citing the APC Women in Sport committee as a good example of this. Her message was that it is important to understand the cultural barriers that are preventing women getting involved in sport in order that these can be overcome and to promote role models to provide inspiration and motivation to young women.
The webinar then heard from several NPCs about the initiatives that they are undertaking to increase the development and achievements of female athletes and leaders in the Asian region.
Mr. Nasser Alqahtani from NPC Saudi Arabia presented on the measures that they have taken that have increased the number of female athletes and coaches in a number of sports and have led to their first ever female athlete qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in para-athletics.
Ms. Amal Haza'a Ali Munassar from NPC Yemen presented on an initiative that has been undertaken in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross to create a women’s wheelchair basketball programme.
The seminar heard how the war in Yemen had worsened the situation for disabled women, increasing their social isolation and impacting their emotional well-being. Ms Amal explained how cultural obstacles where women are kept at home and out of view of society had to be overcome before initially two teams had been set up. This has now been expanded to five teams with 30 players and the aim is to take part in an international competition.
Two South East Asian countries closed the seminar with Mr. Yi Veasna from NPC Cambodia and Dr. Bouathep Phoumindr from NPC both presenting on how women's sports committees have been set up in the NPCs, and on measures that they are taking to increase the number of female athletes and coaches active in their respective countries. NPC Cambodia will host the ASEAN Para Games in 2023 and Mr. Yi Veasna added that they plan to take this opportunity to put promote female para-athletes.
In his closing remarks, APC CEO Tarek Souei said: “This seminar has highlighted just some of the great initiatives that are being undertaken in our region to develop women in Para sport. I especially enjoyed the uplifting story from Yemen which has demonstrated the power of sport to change women’s lives.
“We know that there is much to do to increase the participation of women in Para sport at all levels across our region but today has shown that there is a lot of energy and determination being brought to this task. I’d like to thank the IPC, the Japan NPC, the Japanese Sports Council and the Sport for Tomorrow initiative for supporting these efforts through this seminar.”
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