The International Mixed Martial Arts Federation (IMMAF) is proud to announce the launch of National Women’s MMA Commissions in 8 countries: Ireland, England, Spain, Panama, Columbia, Congo, Cameroon and India.
Since its formation on 8 March 2020, the IMMAF Women’s Commission, led by Chairwoman Hayzia Bellem, has been working to support the establishment national level women’s commissions across IMMAF member countries as part of a drive to enable more women to shine in the octagon.
A key remit of the IMMAF Commission is to audit the gender parity of mixed martial arts and define recommended actions to develop women’s MMA both nationally and at the international level, across all areas of the sport. To this end, the IMMAF Women’s Commission has launched a survey to identify the main obstacles to female participation in MMA and gather women’s ideas on how the sport could made more appealing to them as participants.
The new National Women’s MMA Commissions are already contributing to the audit and have been establishing their goals, including actions such as;
• convincing promoters to feature at least a minimum number of female fights on their fight cards
• developing collaborative MMA classes that will make them more appealing or accessible to women (e.g. MMA cardio fitness, family friendly MMA classes etc.)
• the advertising of MMA gradings amongst female athletes to highlight the different levels in MMA to increase safety and confidence in training
• the advertising of the various opportunities and routes for women to be involved in MMA, for example, in refereeing and judging
• promoting the positive impact of MMA on physical and mental health
As a result of the international commission’s recommendations at meetings attended by both the IMMAF CEO and President, IMMAF has committed to developing further training for MMA’s coaches and athletes on safeguarding and ethical behaviors to protect women and young girls.
The IMMAF Women’s Commission is planning its first Women’s Assembly with its National Women’s MMA Commissions in October.
IMMAF Women’s Commission Chairwoman, Hayzia Bellem, says she has started to fulfill her dream “to highlight the beauty of women participating in Combat Sports. Giving women the platform to demonstrate their strength and power sends a great message to future generations. MMA is not about violence. MMA is a universal combat sport which allows participants to express their individual fighting style. By developing female MMA at a global level, we also support a more universal need, to achieve equality between men and women.”
IMMAF President Kerrith Brown, said:
“I am proud of the tremendous start with which our Women’s Commission has shot out of the gates. It is our goal to increase women’s participation in MMA and create a more equitable environment. The take-up among the national federations demonstrates the demand for support in this area and I’m impressed with the proactivity with which our women’s commissions have taken on this challenge.”
IMMAF Anti-doping Consultant, Michele Verroken, who also sits on the Women’s Commission said:
“Recognition of the value of promoting women’s participation in the sport, at all levels, is an important part of any international sports federation. IMMAF has gone further in supporting a network of national women’s committees, to complement and partner the International Committee. Women’s participation in MMA is being encouraged, celebrated and supported both nationally and internationally. We are delighted to welcome women as coaches, officials and athletes and to recognize their contribution to our sport. “