The IJF Gender Equity Conference was held on the eve of the 2018 World Championships ©IJF

The International Judo Federation (IJF) held its first Gender Equity Conference today here today where its President Marius Vizer stressed that they would follow a criteria of promotion based on professionality rather than gender.

Vizer praised the IJF’s Gender Equity Commission headed by Lisa Allan, the Federation's competition manager, and claimed he was confident that it would achieve its aim to "implement the right strategy in accordance with the balance between gender".

The word "equity" has been used to distinguish the aims of the Commission - to promote and empower women through the sport of judo and allowing for men and women to have the same opportunities and involvement, Allan told the conference. 

She used the analogy of a one-sized judogi when explaining the difference between equlity and quity.

The standard judogi would be equal for everyone but equity means providing each judoka with a size specific judogi to make the competition fair.

President of the All Japan Judo Federation, Yasuhiro Yamashita was among those to pledge his support to the Commission and vowed to take the ideas discussed back to his National Federation.

Yamashita, the 1984 Olympic open champion, urged other National Federations in the audience to take home the messages from the Conference to achieve global equity.

Sanda Corak,President of the Croatian Judo Federation, shared some statistics from research she has been conducting. 

Corak began with the simple fact that , while men’s judo was included on the Olympic programme in 1964 in Tokyo, women had to wait until Barcelona 1992 to compete on the highest stage.

The positives, she noted, are that the rules, prize money and mixed team events have made gender equality almost a full reality in competition.

Only 26 per cent of all Member Federations of the IJF responded to a 2017 survey on gender equity.

From the responses Corak found that only 20 per cent of Federations were actively encouraging gender equity and female empowerment through the sport.

The biggest issue facing the sport, said Corak, was the inability of judo to retain women after they had finished competing.

The key note speakers represented all areas of judo; from leadership, athletes, politics, coaches and referees ©IJF
The key note speakers represented all areas of judo; from leadership, athletes, politics, coaches and referees ©IJF

Sabrina Filzmoser of Austria, due tocompete at her 13th World Championships here, stressed that the sport needs to continue to evolve.

Altough judo provides equal prize money and equal Olympic quotas for men and women, it is "not a position to rest", she said.

The coverage of the sport is less equal which leads to a lack of female judokas to look up to, meaning that young girls "can’t be what you can’t see," Filzmoser said.

Media coverage, sponsorship and salaries are all areas that ought to be addressed, she claimed.

Akiko Amano represented female officials as an IJF referee from Japan.

Amano was the first female referee from Japan to be selected for the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008.

She was also the first female to referee at the All Japan Judo Federation Open Weight Championships in 2017.

To recruit more females into judo refereeing, Amano overcame family constraints that prevented the involvement of women.

Kate Corkery, President of the Australian Judo Federation, claimed it was essential for judo to make steps to include more women in the sport to grow judo around the world.

The reasons for including women were that women make up half of the world’s population and diversity in thinking enables leaders to maximise potential.