Time To Legislate Against Gender Discrimination And Inequalities In Sport?

6 Nov

South Africa’s sports paradigm is filled with inequalities resulting from unequal distribution and allocation of our country’s financial resources, and the harshest of these inequalities are those affecting one’s class, social and gender positioning in sport.

With another women’s month having arrived yet again, when much more focus is spotlighted on women, before we are pushed along and shoved here and there, I use this opportunity yet again to call out against the gender imbalances which severely prohibit and impede development of South Africa’s girls and women as they go strive to develop through the sports pyramid.

Over the past twenty years, pressure, activism and gender inequality awareness has raised consciousness, but not enough is being done to ensue that our sportswomen are getting the best allocations and support, just like our sportsmen.

We have just come off another participation in an Olympic Games and a Paralympics Games.

For the average thinking sports consumer, those who don’t question gender constructs and imbalances in society, it appears that most of South Africa’s sportswomen ware useless, have no talent, and should not be competing on the international sports stage because they can’t win medals.

South Africa’s women Olympians and Paralympians have achieved just about enough of  what can be expected of them, when they compete amongst and with the world’s best women in sport, given the shortcuts and piecemeal hand outs here and there that they are given.

Those in control of power driving the South African sports network, and who are mostly men, do not consider women’s development in sport as much when they assist and provide for elite sportsmen to develop.

So who do the sportswomen turn to and to whom do they cry out. Ten years down the line, I don’t want to be writing about the gender inequalities and pleading for assistance. I want to celebrate and applaud a South African sports structure that does not discriminate against girls and women in sport.

The time has arrived, that we stop complaining, because we know the gender imbalances exist, we acknowledge the stressful situations under which our sportswomen are forced to participate in sport and we must refuse to accept this deficient terrain. Sports federations who organize and develop girls and women in sport from club to elite level, often cite the blame at the door of corporates who refuse to assist sportswomen, despite women’s buying power.

Government sports departments, under various Ministers and MEC’s have also recklessly and negligently treated women in sport, with some support and assistance here and there. And, despite this minimal and at times lack of support, our sportswomen still continue to believe in their spots talent and worth, and still work hard at training to achieve and make South Africa proud.  

And let me remind us that we should not dare compare our sportswomen to the successes of the Jamaican and USA women athletes, world class women swimmers and tennis players and achieving world champions and Olympic medalists when we send them out to compete with chains around them.

 Sports such as netball and football must set up national professional leagues for women, high performance sport must concentrate on women with exclusive funding for women, not just on an adhoc basis like its done one year before an Olympic Games, but over a consistent period, if we are to appreciate the talent of our sportswomen.

 Admittedly, despite the glaring inequalities in our sports paradigm, there exists no organized voice and activism to challenge the elite and powerful men who control and allocate the money. Somewhere and somehow this voice has got to emerge if we are intent on creating and maintaining opportunities for sports girls and sportswomen, especially, black, rural and working class women in sport. 

 Most importantly, we know the gender discrimination and inequalities exist and we have complained and continue to raise our individual voices against this. But we don’t want to spend or precious lives complaining. Now it’s up to government to deliver in the interest and protection of our sportswomen and legislate against gender inequality in sport.


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