Today, the IFMA would like to address reports of a meeting in Thailand of the Subcommittee for the Development and Promotion of Boxing discussing the issuance of a regulation to make elbow protection mandatory for women.
We have come a long way in terms of gender equality since the early promotion of women’s muaythai in 1995 which opened up Muay Ying competitions at Rangsit Stadium unde the World Muaythai Council. Since then inclusion of females within participating national teams has gone from 6 countries at the first IFMA World Championships into full gender parity at the 2018 World Championships in Cancun, Mexico.
IFMA & the WMC for over 25 years worked hand in hand on the One World One Muaythai principle.
IFMA & WMC entered into a MoU with UNWomen in 2014, which solidified our belief in the unifying power of sport and adopted with vigour the goals and concepts of non-discrimination, peace and equality into IFMA’s mission and vision of a unified one world family. While discrimination against women continues to evolve with different approaches, we as an IOC recognised organisation are bound and adhere to the Olympic values and fundamental principles in addition to our own five pillars of Tradition, Honour, Respect, Excellence, & Fair Play.
Within the IFMA family, all genders and sexual orientations have equal opportunity. Everyone, regardless of social background, race or religion and differences must follow the same rules, play on the same field of play. To ensure this, IFMA took on the discriminatory “common practice” which held that women should enter the ring under the ropes. In an effort to rectify this practice, IFMA made fundamental changes to its Rules & Regulations which specifies a uniform mode of entry into the ring for all athletes no matter their gender.
IFMA believes in equal opportunity and the IFMA Executive Committee demonstrates this value with two of the five Continental representative Vice Presidents being female. IFMA sees itself as an equaliser within women’s sport this is a known fact on the international sporting level. IFMA believes in creating change towards the betterment of society as well as in sport and ensuring the rights of all athletes are fair and respected. This endeavour is well respected not only by the International Olympic Committee which recognises IFMA as the sole sporting organisation for the art and sport of muaythai within the Olympic movement and from this devotion to equality IFMA has built strong relationships and partnerships with international entities including; UNESCO, UNWomen, Right To Play, Generations for Peace, Peace & Sport and United Through Sports. It is not by chance that the Vice President of all world recognised sport organisations both Olympic and non-Olympic originates from IFMA.
IFMA’s policies regarding female athletes are not limited to the ring. Women are integral in all IFMA’s decision-making processes, within its technical officials, coaches – it is about talent and quality for a given position, not gender. Through this policy IFMA is proud that today we see gender equality in delegations from countries including; Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Morocco and more. Now we see many of whom are bringing more medals home than their male counterparts. The reforms and necessary changes stand for all family, the protection of the youth, non-discrimination, inclusion, and equality.
We believe that Every Body should have and must have their given right to take opportunities towards their dreams, and it is our responsibility to ensure this possibility. The practice of sport is a fundamental right for everybody and females are no exception. The World Games have already honoured our work towards gender equality awarding muaythai an additional division for the next edition of the Games in 2022, to ensure that we may maintain an equal number of men and women competing at the top level.
In 2019, the World Muaythai Council and IFMA unified to bring the sport’s governance structure in line with that of the Olympic Movement where by the term “Elite Athlete” no longer differentiates between Amateur or Professional.
The reports on the meeting convened in Thailand with regards to mandatory use of elbow guards “for women’s muaythai competition” have been baffling to the IFMA leadership. In such an important time globally, we do question that perhaps the focus should be towards more pressing issues than undermining women’s role and participation in sports. IFMA will stand with and for our women, to ensure that this proposal shall not come into effect taking muaythai a significant developmental step backwards. The only way IFMA would look back, is to see how far we have come.