Sanda Corak has several hats: president of the Croatian Judo Federation, IJF Executive Committee member, chair of the Gender Equality Commission and editor in chief of the IJF Arts and Sciences of Judo Journal. Having spent many years within the judo family for the development of judo nationally and internationally, she is a true advocate of judo for women. She reflects on who inspired her and why it is important to inspire inclusion through judo.
Sanda Corak

“The first woman who inspired me in many ways is my mother. She taught me, by example, the values of discipline and hard work. She also showed me how the smile is always important and brings positive energy and persistence to solve any problem.

In judo, I had two role models, a woman and a man. Rusty Kanokogi and stories of her efforts to make judo equal for men and women assured me that it would be worth continuing to work in judo after the competition career.

My second role model was and still is, the IJF President, Marius Vizer, who had a vision for the development of judo as a global sport. He inspired me to use the knowledge obtained in my professional work, in strategic planning and governance, in judo. During my first years as a president of the Croatian Judo Federation, I was learning and absorbing knowledge from his reports and presentations, as president of the EJU and later as IJF president. He gave me confidence to continue with all our team’s activities within my federation. Accepting my ideas in the areas of research, science and judo education, Mr Vizer confirmed that he believes and supports the competencies of a person, regardless of gender and that is real proof of gender equality.

In my opinion, It is important that we have role models who can inspire and support us. I always say, ‘together we are stronger!’

Judo can inspire inclusion for women through its history as a sport with multiple values that imply inclusion and equality. Although women began to compete later than men, female judoka can be proud of the equality found in all aspects of judo competition, from sport rules to prize money. In addition, different IJF projects such as Judo for Peace or Judo in Schools always promote the inclusion of women.

Judo offers safe surroundings where respect and friendship prevail, where everybody is accepted and where the same principles and rules are applied for all. The IJF is supporting women not only as athletes but also as coaches, referees or women in leadership positions. Besides members of the Gender Equality Commission, because of their competencies, more and more women are taking up positions on different IJF commissions, influencing the development of judo, delivering examples to the whole judo world.

The International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration is an excellent chance to further promote inclusion and equality as those values can be derived from the core philosophy of judo. Every member federation would like to increase the number of medals won at international competitions and at Olympic Games, therefore the number of countries with women’s teams is growing but we still do not see the same growth for women in other roles, especially with involvement in governing bodies and federations. Due to traditions and cultural differences, women in judo need support in their fight against prejudice and stereotypes.

Every year IWD offers a new opportunity to illustrate the contributions of women in judo and to show the benefits of including women in work as equal partners. To be able to get more visibility and impact, we need the whole judo family to unite in showing the importance of equity, supporting girls and women to practise judo but also to be retained in judo to help the development and expansion of judo in their communities.

As the chair of the GE Commission, I would like to open more dialogue with national judo federation leaders about the obstacles of the process of including more women so that together we can find new ways to attract and retain girls and women in judo.

If we accept respect in judo as the cornerstone of our moral values, the judo family needs to also embrace and develop tolerance when it comes to gender differences. In the judo world, men and women are not the same but they are sharing the same passion for judo.”

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