The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have recognised Jordan’s Maha Bargouthi, Poland’s Paulina Malinowska-Kowalczyk and Paralympics Australia as part of International Women’s Day celebrations.
The IPC expanded its International Women’s Day honours to three categories for the first time, with one woman having previously been honoured each year since the awards' inception in 2013.
The winners are viewed to be “three outstanding figures who have impacted the Paralympic Movement”, who also emulate the Paralympic ideals and are positive role models for other women.
Bargouthi was awarded the Next Generation Award, with the IPC stating that the Jordanian athlete had become a young leader.
Bargouthi became active in sport at 17 when taking up athletics, before switching sports to take up table tennis.
She secured Jordan's first and only Paralympic gold medal after winning her singles table tennis event at Sydney 2000 and represented the country at the Games until Rio 2016.
Bargouthi was elected a member of the IPC’s Athletes’ Council in 2008 and appointed secretary general of NPC Jordan, where she has worked to implement comprehensive and radical changes to empower the organisation and its athletes.
Malinowska-Kowalczyk received the builder category award with the IPC saying she embodied the category’s theme, which examined sustained and consistent leadership over a period of time promoting and supporting women in sport.
The IPC highlighted Malinowska-Kowalczyk’s role as the spokesperson of the Polish Paralympic Committee and advisor to Poland’s President Andrzej Duda.
Malinowska-Kowalczyk, who had her arm amputated due to cancer when she was 11 years old, worked for Polish Television from 2002 to 2017 on programmes about people with disabilities.
She was the host of the country’s award-winning programme on TVP Sport, “The able-bodied”, that focused on people with an impairment practicing sport.
“I have never thought about winning any prizes by working with the Paralympic Movement," Malinowska-Kowalczyk said.
"I simply love the work I do.
“I have always believed that Paralympic sport has its mark and identity.
“Winning the Builder category means my beliefs were always right.
“This award will motivate me to continue my work and to promote Paralympic Movement. And yes, I feel very happy.”
Malinowska-Kowalczyk worked as a journalist at the Athens 2004, Vancouver 2010, Sochi 2014, Rio 2016 and Pyeongchang 2018 Paralympic Games.
She was awarded with a Special Prize in the contest “Man without barriers” and was given a medal commemorating the 100th anniversary of Polish Olympic Committee for work for the development of sport in her country.
Paralympics Australia was awarded the National Paralympic Committee and International Federation prize.
The organisation received the award for displaying leadership and impacting the promotion and support of women in sport.
Paralympics Australia appointed Lynne Anderson as its chief executive in 2015 and she has been credited with being a driving behind supporting sports programmes to promote gender equality.
Paralympic Australia also appointed its first female Chef de Mission in Kate McLoughlin to lead the team at Rio 2016 and she has been reappointed for Tokyo 2020.
“I’m also proud for our NPC to win this award because I see how far equality in sport has come,” Anderson said.
“For a long time there was no visibility for women in sport, just like with Para sport, and so many people didn’t think we could get there but we are.”
Australia’s delegation at Rio 2016 was 42 per cent female, while Paralympics Australia governance has had a strong rise in female representation, with 55 per cent of its senior executive team being women.
Previous winners of the IPC award include Deepa Malik, Dr. Hayat Khattab, Dr. Cheri Blauwet, Carla Qualtrough, Chantal Petitclerc, Rima Batalova and Sylvana Mestre.