Women have been causing quite the stir in the BJJ community lately. This is in large part thanks to Dominyka Obelenyte. Dominyka is Marcelo Garcia’s first female black belt, and the youngest European woman to double gold at Worlds. With this huge accomplishment underneath her belt, she decided it was time to use her voice. Knowing that her name would be in the limelight now, she took it “as a chance to make a statement about the drastic difference in prize money the IBJJF offered women in its BJJ pros.”
Dominyka isn’t sure why women don’t receive the same prizes. The way she sees it, “Five Grappling seems to have no problem offering both genders equal prize money…so I don’t understand why other organizations don’t follow suit.” Last year, when IBJJF offered so little prize money, Dominyka assumed it was because it was a new tournament. But the prizes didn’t increase this year for women.
The people that have spoken out against the cause make light of the fact that there are less women competing. While this may sound economical, Dominyka believes that “the difference in in prize money is staggering, even offensive.” Dominyka has suggested that “ IBJJF implement a minimum requirement of competitors, so that no division is left empty, otherwise persons involved would not be paid.” Given the amount of skill and effort of women in the sport, especially black belts, this seems like a feasible request.
The difference in pay calls up images of women being less than their male counterparts. Dominyka discusses why she feels this way:
“Women work just as hard as men when it comes to BJJ, they put in the same effort into training, on and off the mats. They pay the same prices for hotels, plane tickets, tournament registrations, equipment, etc. so why should they be rewarded less for it? The difference in prize money definitely conjures up the image of women as having a less prevalent and less important position in BJJ, and with the amount of people asserting that more women should join BJJ, an outlook like this will never garner an increase in female competitors.”
And while she is thankful that there are both men and coming forward after the Metamoris and Ralek Gracie nonsense, Dominyka is aware that the only way for this movement to move forward is for there to be continued support.
Women competitors aren’t here to “ look pretty, or be physically attractive… We are here to train as hard as we can and give everything in order to compete and win.” Dominyka, and the movement, have been prevalent on social media with #equalpayforbjj. She encourages everyone to participate in the cause and help raise awareness.
Sign the petition at: www.change.org/p/ibjjf-give-women-athletes-equal-prize-money-2