Throughout its rich history, women have played a pivotal role in shaping the Games into the global event it is today. From pioneering participation to breaking records, their journey is a story of resilience, determination, and triumph against the odds.

The inaugural edition of the Commonwealth Games in Hamilton, 1930, marked the modest beginnings of women's participation. The aquatics program included the only women's events of the games, where they were limited to just five swimming events and two diving events. Joyce Cooper's remarkable feat of winning four gold medals showcased the potential of female athletes and laid the foundation for future generations. Cooper's versatility in the water, excelling in events like the 100 yd freestyle and 400 yd freestyle, highlighted her dedication and skill, breaking boundaries in a time when women's sports were still in their infancy.

Four years later, at White City in 1934, women's athletics events were introduced, albeit with modifications to fit societal norms of the time. Eileen Hiscock's four gold medals in sprinting events defied notions of what was considered "ladylike," challenging stereotypes and paving the way for women to excel on the track. Hiscock's victories in the 100 and 200-yard sprints broke barriers, showing the world that women could compete at the highest level in traditionally male-dominated sports.

The Games of Sydney in 1938 witnessed the emergence of Decima Norman, who overcame bureaucratic hurdles to claim five gold medals. The absence of the Women's Amateur Athletic Association of Australia and a West Australian women's athletics club did not deter Norman; instead, it fuelled her determination to establish these organizations herself. While this delayed her qualification for the 1934 competition, her proactive approach not only paved the way for her own participation but also laid the foundation for future female athletes in Australia.

In Auckland 1950, Yvette Corlett etched her name in history as the first New Zealand woman to win a gold medal. Her victory in the long jump was followed by a silver in the women's javelin. The 1954 edition in Vancouver saw the introduction of shot put and discus events for women. Corlett won gold in both of these events as well as defending her long jump title from Auckland, cementing her legacy as one of New Zealand's top athletes of the 20th century. Meanwhile, Marjorie Jackson-Nelson's dominance in sprinting events solidified her status as a track legend.

The 1960s witnessed the rise of Dawn Fraser, whose unparalleled success in swimming events made her a household name. Fraser's accomplishments not only brought glory to Australia but also highlighted the growing influence of women in sports. Fraser's victories in events like the 100m freestyle and 400m freestyle demonstrated her exceptional talent and determination, inspiring a new generation of female swimmers to follow in her footsteps.

The Games continued to evolve, with new events and disciplines introduced over the years. Raelene Boyle's stellar performances in Edinburgh 1970 and 1974 underscored the increasing competitiveness of women's athletics, showcasing their versatility and athleticism. Sabina Chebichi became the first Kenyan female athlete to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games, winning bronze in the 800m Women's race.

Edinburgh 1986 saw another historic moment with the inclusion of the women's marathon event at the Commonwealth Games. Lisa Martin of Australia clocked a world-class time of 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 7 seconds. Martin's success continued as she went on to defend her title four years later in Auckland.

At the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland, Cathy Freeman made history by becoming the first female Aboriginal athlete to win a gold medal in the 4x100 meters relay at just 16 years old. Four years later, at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Freeman continued to break barriers by carrying both the Aboriginal and Australian flags during her victory laps after winning gold in the 200 and 400 meters race. This act of displaying both flags sparked controversy but also highlighted Freeman's pride in her Indigenous heritage and her identity as an Australian athlete. Freeman's actions symbolised a powerful statement of unity and representation on the international stage, solidifying her legacy as an iconic figure in Australian and global athletics.

The 2002 Commonwealth Games held in Manchester marked a significant milestone as athletes with disabilities were fully integrated into their national teams, becoming the first truly inclusive international multi-sport Games. This groundbreaking decision meant that their achievements were officially recognised and counted towards the overall medal tally. Chantal Petitclerc made history by securing the first Commonwealth Games gold medal in Para-sport, triumphing in the wheelchair 800 meters event over Australian Paralympic pioneer Louise Sauvage. 

South Africa’s Natalie Du Toit won the multi-disability 50m and 100m freestyle events. Her remarkable feat extended beyond Para-sport as she also qualified for the 800m able-bodied freestyle final, a historic moment as the first athlete with a disability to achieve such a milestone in an able-bodied event.

Women's boxing events were introduced at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. England’s Nicola Adams won a gold medal in the flyweight division while her teammate Savannah Marshall was triumphant in the middleweight division. This marked a significant moment for women's boxing, showcasing the growing recognition and inclusion of female athletes, and contributing to the advancement and visibility of women's boxing globally.

24 years after rugby sevens was introduced to the men’s programme, the women's rugby sevens competition made its debut at Gold Coast 2018. Canada’s Caroline Crossley scored the first-ever Commonwealth Games Women’s Sevens try, while New Zealand went on to win the gold medal after beating Australia 17-12 in extra time.

At Birmingham in 2022, Emma McKeon emerged as the most triumphant athlete in Games history with a remarkable 11th gold medal victory in the women's 50m freestyle event. This historic achievement coincided with a significant milestone in the Games' evolution, marking the first instance where more medal events were made available for women than men. This progressive step towards gender equality underscores the ongoing efforts to promote inclusivity and diversity within the realm of sports.

In a display of athletic prowess and determination, Nigeria's very own Goodness Nwachukwu made history as the first GAPS athlete to clinch a gold medal, triumphing in the F42 discus event. 

The GAPS program stands as a beacon of hope and support within the Commonwealth Games framework, dedicated to nurturing and empowering para-athletes from member nations. Through its pioneering initiatives and unwavering commitment to inclusivity, GAPS continues to pave the way for a more inclusive and accessible sporting landscape, where athletes of all abilities can shine on the global stage.

And as a poignant tale of legacy, 36 years after Liz Lynch took the gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the Commonwealth Games, her daughter Eilish McColgan followed in her mother's footsteps and claimed victory in the same event at Birmingham 2022. This remarkable achievement not only signifies the enduring impact of Liz Lynch's triumph but also showcases the power of family, determination, and the indomitable spirit of women in sports.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, let us pay tribute to the remarkable journey of women in the Commonwealth Games. From pioneers who defied expectations to champions who broke records, their legacy will forever inspire future generations to dream big, defy barriers, and strive for excellence in all endeavors. Through their resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit, women athletes have not only left an indelible mark on the Commonwealth Games but have also enriched the fabric of sports worldwide. 

As we honor their achievements, let us reaffirm our commitment to gender equality and empower women to reach their full potential, both on and off the field.