With Women’s International Day on the 8th of this month it would be remiss if we didn’t talk a little bit about this topic. The BBC describes it as “ a date to celebrate how far women have come in society, in politics and in economics.”

International Women’s Day is also known as IWD or #IWD2021 for this year. The movement grew out of the labour changes that started during the first war and has moved on to become a recognised annual event by the United Nations (UN).
In 1908, 15,000 women marched through downtown New York City demanding shorter working hours, better pay and the right to vote. But It was the Socialist Party of America who declared the first National Woman’s Day, a year later. Because I am a Kiwi I would like to point out that New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote and they did this in 1893.

Moving on, it was Clara Zetkin who suggested in Copenhagen in 1910 that there should be a day put aside that every country across the globe could stand up and recognise that women are equal to men and they deserved the same opportunities and the same rights as men. One hundred women from 17 countries agreed unanimously at this International Working Women’s Conference and the first IWD was celebrated in 1911.
This means we are celebrating the 110th IWD this month in 2021.

The UN didn’t start celebrating this international event until 1975. Early celebrations of the IWD meant the international coordination of strikes and protests across the globe to raise awareness of the continued inequality women still faced daily. Though many countries have seen unprecedented changes there are still some countries lost in yesteryear and shrink in fear at the thought of allowing women to have some control and rights over their own lives.

I hope you enjoyed that brief history lesson on how IWD came to be. Luckily for us in the IFMA family we are not afraid – the women and the men. We know that working together only improves and enhances our sport. Men and women were always meant to work together in partnership with neither one ruling over the other. It is together, side by side, learning and giving and teaching, that we will continue to grow our  sport. We all understand muaythai is not just a sport to us – it is a way of life. So take home our lessons about sharing the workload, supporting each other, and looking to see where you can offer a hand to a person that might need extra encouragement. Now we must take the next step which is to act, to make the necessary changes needed to create equity for women so that we might all become equal no matter where we live or where we come from. 

I remember Stephan Fox speaking to an audience in Singapore. He explained that “the only time you should ever look down on a person, is when you offer them a hand to help them up.” This statement truly shows the desire for equity and the need to share the power for the benefit of everyone. So it is with great gratitude that I say a deep and humble thankyou to the men of IFMA that have done just that so that we could compete, officiate, manage, coach and administer the sport of Muaythai as we move down the homeward straits of Full IOC Recognition toward the IOC Games platform. 

By: Sue Glassy, Chair of Gender Equality Commission