January 1 - With the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) set to celebrate its silver jubilee in 2014, President Sir Philip Craven has claimed in a New Year's message he wants to address the issue of gender equality and to create new female leaders within the Movement.
The Briton, elected for a fourth term at the IPC General Assembly in Athens in November, has promised to personally address the lack of female representation on the Governing Board following the elections in the Greek capital.
"November's IPC General Assembly, where just four of the 27 Governing Board candidates were women, highlighted that although gender parity has improved in Paralympic sports, much work still needs to be undertaken off the field in creating a generation of female leaders," wrote Sir Philip.
Of the 14 IPC members elected to the Governing Board, only three were women, American Ann Cody, South Korea's Kyung-won Na and Rita van Driel of the Netherlands.
The 63-year-old, who saw off the challenge of fellow Briton Alan Dickson during the elections, claimed the IPC and the Paralympic Movement has made significant progress since its formation in Düsseldorf 25 years ago but called on all its members to build on that success in the coming year.
"To achieve greater success, each and every IPC member, in addition to the IPC and the Agitos Foundation, has a role to play," said Sir Philip.
"That is why later this year the whole IPC membership will come together to discuss and address ideas on how they can be fully involved in the Paralympic Movement's future direction.
"The year ahead will also see ongoing progress with the Classification Code Review and I urge anyone with a vested interest in this area to contribute to the second period of consultation which will take place between June 1 and September 30."
Following the second consultation period later this year, a final version of the revised Code will be presented by the IPC Governing Board as a motion at the 2015 IPC General Assembly, and the new Code will take effect within one year of approval.
While a number of World Championships will take place this year, including in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, shooting, wheelchair rugby, sailing, rowing, road cycling, boccia and table tennis, Sir Philip predicted Sochi 2014 will be the highlight of the year.
He revealed he wanted the Games, due to open on March 7, to help make a positive change on the attitudes of the Russian public towards disability sport and people with impairments suggesting that history shows the country's perception and treatment of people with disabilities has not always been acceptable.
"Staging a first Paralympic Games in Russia is a historic landmark for the Movement, especially when you consider that just over 30 years ago the USSR decided not to stage the 1980 Paralympics in Moscow as they claimed they had no one with an impairment in their country," said Sir Philip.
"Happily, Russia has made great strides in recent years in developing a barrier-free Games infrastructure in Sochi and also building a very strong Paralympic team that will be difficult to beat on home snow and ice.
"The next step is for the wider population of Russia to change their attitudes and perceptions toward people with an impairment.
"As shown with previous Paralympics, March's Games can act as a catalyst to starting this change, making for a more inclusive Russia."
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