The World Karate Federation (WKF) has launched the Guardian Girls Global Karate Project, in cooperation with the Koyamada International Foundation (KIF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Guardian Girls is a worldwide initiative to combat gender-based violence and has the aim of empowering girls and young women to defend themselves through karate training.

Development of the programme will take place alongside the WKF's Karate 1-Premier League events.

Self-defence seminars and demonstrations will be held at all major WKF tournaments, and officials will encourage the creation of self-defence departments at all of the WKF's national federations.

In 2024, Guardian Girls is set for expansion. 

Guardian Girls is a worldwide initiative to combat gender-based violence ©WKF
Guardian Girls is a worldwide initiative to combat gender-based violence ©WKF

The project was presented in Irish capital Dublin in September 2023 and Fukuoka in Japan in June 2023, alongside WKF events.

In March 2023, the project was launched in Spain as Guadalajara hosted the European Championships.

The Japanese ambassador to Spain, Nakamae Takahiro, was among those present.

In January 2023, the first event of Guardian Girls took place in Cairo, Egypt, alongside the Karate 1-Premier League event in the city.

It included a self-defence karate seminar for local women, while a demonstration to showcase karate's social contribution to eradicating gender-based violence also took place at Cairo International Stadium.

An official signing ceremony and the pilot event for Guardian Girls was held on October 7, 2022, in Los Angeles, where the KIF global headquarters is based.

A self-defence event took place at the Terasaki Budokan which saw more than 50 women of all ages take part.

It was managed by karate world champion Elisa Au, who is a member of the WKF Athletes' Commission.

She was assisted by Olympian and Pan American champion Sakura Kokumai.

A session called "Women's Mental Resilience" was also held which covered mental health and saw the participation of many community leaders from Los Angeles.

The programme was officially presented at the residence of the consul general of Japan, with the WKF, KIF and UNFPA signing a partnership agreement. 

The Guardian Girls project launched in Los Angeles ©WKF
The Guardian Girls project launched in Los Angeles ©WKF

"The Guardian Girls Karate project will contribute to further connecting karate with society and thus using the strength of karate's values to fight gender-based violence," said WKF President Antonio Espinós.

"Through the agreement today, the WKF, KIF and UNFPA partner to empower women through karate seminars at all Karate 1-Premier League events starting January 2023.

"We will devote all our resources to the success of this project as we believe that there is no greater contribution that we can bring to society than helping in the fight against gender-based violence."

Guardian Girls has been nominated for the Institution of the Year award by Peace and Sport.