History was made earlier this year at the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur (IFMA) World Championships when Mireim El Moubarik of Morocco became the first woman to win a medal in the sport wearing a hijab. Moubarik’s gold medal victory came only one year after IFMA’s decision to amend their constitution to include the full hijab as an optional uniform in line with International Olympic Committee guidelines.Dato Muhammad Shahnaz, President of the Malaysia Muaythai Association, calls the IFMA decision a “milestone” and one that he hopes will bolster the momentum that has been building in his own country toward greater inclusion in sport.
“It is extremely important for us that we build inclusive sporting teams,” he says. “Malaysia’s diversity is very unique and we already strive to represent this diversity in our national teams. We are now taking strides towards a more realistic male/female ratio in sports.”
Evidence of this progress was clear on 4 June when the Malaysia Education Ministry, the National Sports Council and the Malaysia Muaythai Federation held the 1st National Interschool and youth championship in Summit USJ Mall, Selangor. Half of the 500 primary and secondary school aged children who participated in the event were girls.