Gender Equality is a subject near and dear to the heart of IFMA, an organisation deeply committed to the motion, long before it became the newest “Social Initiative” kid on the block…
…following the recent launch of important initiatives by UNWomen such as the UNite campaign aimed at ending violence against women and girls and the “HeForShe” campaign for gender equality and the empowerment of women. In 2014 IFMA signed an important MoU with UNWomen and since then has engaged in more than 100 activities with the cooperation of UNWomen agencies around the world.
The different activities include video campaigns using well-known champions like Bua-Kaw as Ambassadors to advocate for gender equality, or events to create awareness by featuring special UNiTE Trophies and Cups and engaging National Federations in various other activities and workshops.
Buakaw Banchamek, one of muaythai’s most famous athletes doing his part as muaythai’s ambassador to advocate for the UNWomen’s HeForShe campaign.
IFMA’s executive board boasts over 30% female representation, with two of its five Continental Federation Presidents being women. Sue Glassey, IFMA Vice President and Oceania Muaythai Federation President also heads the Female Commission and is known for her incredible drive and dedication to developing the sport for females, especially those from more restrictive cultures. Her work on the board with regards to driving change on policy and regulations on competition attire has opened doors for many Muslim female athletes previously unable to compete in the ring at international events.
“There are not many other recognised combat sports where you would find two female Continental Federation Presidents and ten female NF Presidents. You cannot talk about Gender Equality if your own federation does not practice what it preaches. We live it.” – Sue Glassey, IFMA Vice President, President of Oceania Muaythai Federation & Chair of Female Commission
“IFMA’s Youth Development is the most important. If you want a tree to grow healthy, you must ensure that the roots are healthy. This is why IFMA from the top to the bottom fosters cultural understanding, gender equality, combining our resources to create a positive change”. – Elisa Salinas, IFMA Vice President, President Pan-American Muaythai Confederation, President Mexican Muaythai Federation & Chair of Youth Commission
Elisa Salinas, IFMA’s Vice President, Pan-American Muaythai Association President is also President of the Mexican Muaythai Federation. Elisa is a respected business woman, entrepreneur and philanthropist in Pan-America and is one of the biggest driving forces behind IFMA’s successful social initiative “Sport is Your Gang”, as well as being credited with taking IFMA’s End Violence Against Women campaign in Mexico to new heights.
“Education is the KEY. IFMA has an arsenal of hundreds of thousands of coaches around the world with access to millions of students. Here, as with any other sport, we have a unique chance through our curriculum to instil from a very young age the messages of gender quality and the need to form respectful relationships with one another.” – Dato Shahnaz Azmi, FAMA Vice President and Chair of Education Commission
“IFMA sets important rules and regulations for membership in which national federations are constitutionally bound to engage in social initiatives no matter how big or small. Those that do not face consequences whilst those that do are rewarded for stand-out initiatives…It was an emotional moment at this year’s awards ceremony when UN Women’s Ending Violence against Women and Girls programme specialist Melissa Alvarado presented an award for Gender Equality to the Afghanistan Muaythai Federation.” – Mervyn Tan, FAMA General Secretary, Chair of Legal Commission
The representative of the Afghanistan Team Zahra Rezaye thanked an audience of more than 2,000 people and shared her experiences and challenges coming from a war torn country where the practice of sport is predominantly male. What made her speech especially touching was that she thanked all the men in the IFMA family, for standing up and making it possible.
Hansel and Gretel have been jet setting around the world over the last year since IFMA embarked on the Road to Wroclaw. After Rio they went to Danang to support the qualifying athletes at the Asian Beach Games and then shot over to Croatia for the European Championships. Next week they are headed to Kazan for the World Cup qualification event before jetting back to Asia to hand over the UNiTE Trophy at a Bangkok event in December before heading to Lima, Peru for the Pan-American championships another TWG2017 Qualifier.
Besides sporting spirit, they bring with them educational materials ranging from printed to digital materials related to education and awareness on gender equality and will be part of all the workshops being held during the events.
“You can see it, not only in Afghanistan, but Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran are now sending female teams for mixed competitions. This shift is thanks to a joint effort … IFMA will continue to use every resource out there to contribute to a world so desperately in need of peace, love and understanding. This is why for the next ten months, Hansel and Gretel have been enlisted to join the fight. They are the official mascots for TWG2017, an event under patronage of the IOC; but for IFMA, they are much more. We wanted them to symbolise the message that a family must work together to conquer evil, and if brothers and sisters work together, then happy endings are possible.” – Charissa Tynan, IFMA Sport Director