New Zealand has become the first National Olympic Committee to be named World Winner at the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) annual Women in Sport Awards.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) was recognised for its "longstanding efforts promoting women in sport that have resulted in strong female representation on its Board, within its senior management and on its Olympic teams".
NZOC was praised for having "long been at the forefront of championing change to ensure that women have a prominent role in sport, on and off the field of play".
This includes success in increasing the number of women representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games and in decision-making and leadership positions, not only within the NOC, but also in other sports organisations in the country.
The trophy was presented to NZOC secretary general Kereyn Smith by IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC Women in Sport Commission chair, Lydia Nsekera of Burundi.
“We know that, through sport, women can both build and demonstrate the same qualities that also make great leaders," Smith said.
"We have been working hard to strengthen and promote this link.
“We believe gender balance leads to better decision-making, better organisations and ultimately a better society.”
The award was presented at the Olympic Museum here, with the ceremony following a free BMX demonstration to the public in which New Zealand's London 2012 silver medallist Sarah Walker was among the performers.She also donated her tracksuit for display at The Museum.
“I’m so proud to see the black PEAK tracksuit I wore on the podium in London, emblazoned with the silver fern, here at the incredible Olympic Museum in Lausanne,” Walker said.
“It’s just fantastic to know so many people from all around the world will be reminded of just what New Zealand achieves on the world stage.”
It also marked the first time the IOC Women in Sport award has been presented to an organisation or individual from New Zealand.
"Women have always been truly inspirational role models," added Bach.
"Sport is a powerful platform for gender equality to empower women and girls.
"This is one of the reasons why in Olympic Agenda 2020 we are underscoring the call for stronger gender equality.
“Gender equality is part of good governance in any organisation, whether an International Federation, a National Olympic Committee or in the IOC itself."
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August 2015: Campaign calling for athletes to inspire nation at Rio 2016 launched by New Zealand Olympic Committee
June 2015: Award for New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary general in Queen's Birthday Honours
May 2015: New Zealand Olympic Committee reveal new integrity regulation
October 2014: New Zealand Olympic Committee names new Athletes' Commission members