About halfway through the 2022 Winter Olympics — hosted in Beijing and running from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20 — we've already seen women racking up their gold medal counts, breaking world records, and making waves in speedskating, luge, and more.
The fight for representation in the sporting event has been long and hard won. Women competed at an Olympics for the first time ever at the 1900 Games in Paris. Of a total of 997 athletes, 22 women competed.
It was not until last year, 2021, that, for the first time since the founding of the modern Olympics 125 years ago, the Games almost reached gender parity — of the nearly 11,000 athletes arriving in Tokyo, almost 49% were women.
In a world where women and girls are yet to see real equality, face the daily threat of discrimination and violence, lack access to equitable education and health care, are disproportionately impacted by the compounded affects of humanitarian crises, climate change, and more, celebrating their achievements across all areas of life is an important step on the road to gender equality.
So, without further ado, here are six women and girls achieving big wins at this year’s Winter Olympic Games.
1. Claudia Pechstein: Oldest Woman to Compete
Claudia Pechstein of Germany competes during the women's speedskating 3,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 5, 2022, in Beijing.
Speed skater Claudia Pechstein set a new world record when she became the oldest female Winter Olympian to compete. Pechstein raced in the 3,000 meters at the Beijing Games, aged 49 years (and 348 days).
The German, who will turn 50 two days after the Games come to an end, has previously won five Olympic gold medals over eight games.
Claudia Pechstein, a German police officer, also became the first woman to participate in eight Winter Olympics! She has won five gold medals over an Olympic career stretching back to 1992. 💪 pic.twitter.com/EtCZhZVziU— The Female Quotient (@femalequotient) February 7, 2022
2. Irene Schouten: Speed Skating Time Shatterer
Irene Schouten of the Netherlands reacts after winning the gold medal and setting an Olympic record in the women's speedskating 5,000-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 10, 2022, in Beijing.
Irene Scouten won the women's 5,000m speed skating event with a record time that shattered the previous Olympic record set by Germany's Claudia Pechstein in 2002.
Just a few days later, the Dutch speed skater broke another of Pechstein's records when she won gold in the 3,000m with a time just under a second faster than the previous record (which also belonged to Pechstein).
From another world! 🤯⛸— Olympics (@Olympics) February 10, 2022
Irene Schouten (Netherlands) dominates #SpeedSkating - Women's 5000m to take home the #Gold medal, her 2nd one at #Beijing2022!#StrongerTogether | @TeamNLtweets | @schoutenirene
3. Natalie Geisenberger: First 3-Time Champion of the Women's Singles Luge
Natalie Geisenberger, of Germany, slides during the luge women's singles run 2 at the 2022 Winter Olympics,, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing.
German superstar Natalie Geisenberger became the first three-time women’s luge singles gold medallist.
The most decorated female athlete in her sport, 34-year-old Geisenberger is widely regarded as one of the greatest lugers of all time. She is a nine-time World champion and six-time Olympic champion.
Flawless! 👏— Olympics (@Olympics) February 8, 2022
Natalie Geisenberger (Germany) is the #Luge - Women's Singles Olympic champion, taking home the #Gold medal!
First woman to win this event three times in a row!#Beijing2022 | #StrongerTogether | @TeamD
4. Suzanne Schulting: Fastest Short Track Speed Skating 1,000 meters
Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands, reacts after her women's 3000-meters relay semifinal during the short track speedskating competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 9, 2022, in Beijing.
Suzanne Schulting of the Netherlands set a short track speed skating 1,000 meters world record in the women's quarter-finals.
Schulting let out a scream and raised her fist in triumph after crossing the finish line.
5. Ireen Wüst: First Athlete to Win Gold at 5 Different Olympics & Oldest Speed Skater to Win Gold
Ireen Wust of the Netherlands reacts during a flower ceremony after winning the gold medal and setting an Olympic record in the women's speedskating 1,500-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 7, 2022, in Beijing.
The Netherlands' Ireen Wüst made all kinds of history at the Beijing Olympics, when she became the first athlete ever to win an individual gold medal at five different Olympic Games.
Qualifying for one Olympics is a big feat, but to attend and take home gold in five well, it had never been done, until now.
Wust is among the most decorated athletes competing in Beijing. She has a total of 12 Olympic medals, including six golds dating from her first appearance in 2006.
OLYMPIC CHAMPION!!! 🥇🧡🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/i7Z66o6B8g— Ireen Wüst (@Ireenw) February 7, 2022
At 35 years old Wüst also became the oldest speed skater to win gold at the Olympics.
6. Erin Jackson: First Black Woman to Win Team USA Speed Skating Medal
Erin Jackson of the United States hoists an American flag after winning the gold medal in the speedskating women's 500-meter race at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 13, 2022, in Beijing.
Erin Jackson, a 29-year-old Florida native and lifelong rollerblader, became the first Black woman to win Team USA a gold medal in speed skating.
Jackson finished her lap in just 37.04 seconds, earning Team USA's first gold in the women’s 500 meter speed skating race since 1994.
She was also the first Black woman to make it on to Team USA as a speed skater.
You can take action with us now to help protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world, and support the mission to achieve gender equality. Get involved with our Demand Equity campaign by taking action here, or by downloading the Global Citizen app.