IWAS Wheelchair Fencing forms Gender Equity Commission


The International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) Wheelchair Fencing has launched a new Gender Equity Commission to help ensure equality at the heart of the sport.

The new commission follows on from the election of Christina Massiala as the member for gender equity to the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Executive Committee in late 2020.

Massiala will chair the group of six members from around the world in addition to three co-opted positions.

Argentina’s Susan Masciotra and the USA’s Gary M. van der Wege will represent the Americas. Masciotra is a former wheelchair fencer who is now involved with promoting the sport in her country and beyond. Van der Wege is an international referee and coach in his local community.

Hong Kong’s Ying Man Law has been an international classifier for wheelchair fencing for around 15 years and will represent Asia alongside Russia’s Ksenia Ovsyannikova. As an active wheelchair fencer and Chair of the promotion commission, Ovsyannikova is well-placed to support Ying Man Law in the region.

Mirani Aretusa Ambrosio Fernandes and Great Britain’s Gemma Collis-McCann round off the committee members, representing Europe.

Fernandes, who lives in Austria, has been involved with wheelchair fencing in Brazil, including at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, and is a member of the FIE’s Women and Fencing Council. Collis-McCann is another current athlete and is also the Vice-Chair of the IWAS Wheelchair Fencing Athletes’ Council.

The co-opted members are Lisa Rosenberger, Daniela Spina and Dominique Hornus-Dragne.

Massiala said: “It is wonderful that we are able to call upon such a committed and experienced group of people to take this important work forward. Our role will be to make sure that women and girls are represented equally in all spheres of wheelchair fencing, from the piste to the board room, and place equality of opportunity at the heart of everything we do.

“I am excited to see how the committee evolves and develops over the coming months as we seek to celebrate and build-upon the growing number of female athletes, referees, coaches, classifiers and administrators already involved. From here we can forge the next generation and create true equity in our beautiful sport.”

The Gender Equity Commission will advocate and advise on issues of gender equity, including strategies and policies towards the full inclusion of women and girls at all levels of IWAS Wheelchair Fencing.

It will develop programmes to increase women’s participation in all aspects of the sport. It will also ensure equal opportunities in the management and participation of women. Finally, the group will encourage women and girls to work and contribute to the development of wheelchair fencing throughout the world at all levels.

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, the new committee launched their first campaign. Entitled ‘Women of Steel’, a video series will shine a light on female athletes, referees, coaches and officials from within wheelchair fencing.