Should Women In Sport Organise and Focus on Women’s Only Sports Federations? By Cheryl Roberts

8 Jun

IMG_8434IMG_8003Women get a raw deal in sport the world over because of their gender, especially with discrimination of sportswomen being widespread, across most sports. Operating in and trying to survive in male-dominated sports structures is the story of sportswomen and women officials in sport. If women are being getting a raw deal in male dominated sport whilst sportsmen are the highly favoured gender, is it not time for women to consider organising women in sport federations?

The debate hasn’t begun or been placed on sports agenda whether women should be organized in sport together with men in one sports federation or whether women should organise for women and girls in women’s only sports federations.

If ever you wanted to know should women go it alone or stay in sports federations for both women and men, the recent events in male-dominated and controlled FIFA reveal all the more why women in sport don’t need men controlling their sports involvement.

Despite protests and litigation action spearheaded by the world’s women players against playing the women’s world cup on artificial turf, the 2015 women’s world cup (currently underway in Canada) is being played on artificial turf. This wasn’t a women’s football decision; it was taken by male-dominated FIFA.

And then there’s the opinion of FIFA’s men, especially officials like Sepp Blatter, who think they can decide how women footballers should be attired on the playing field to attract more interests from fans and sponsors. This is women footballers playing football under the organization FIFA. But why are women’s interest and opinions not being taken into account? Why are men deciding how women footballers should fit into the global game of football?

The argument for women organizing women’s sport in separate women’s federations is that all the focus of organization would be on the girls and women; the gender which the federation is mandated to look after and be accountable to.

When women play sport in both genders/single sports federations, it’s always the women who get the crumbs of the budget, sponsorship, and media/publicity.

Look at the sports of rugby, cricket and football in South Africa where the playing membership is both women and men but all three sports are 90% male-dominated. The women want to play rugby, cricket and football but none of these sports have a professional league for the elite women players.

Participation of women in these sports is dependent on decision-making by male officials whose priority, although they don’t like to admit it publicly, is boys and men’s participation first and girls and women much later.

Officials of these sports are likely to react by saying ‘it’s not true they don’t prioritise girls and women’s participation in cricket, football and rugby’ by pointing out how women participate from club level and play internationally. Giving women’s participation in these male-dominated on men’s terms seems okay for the male officials.

How can we allow sports federations dominated and controlled by men to look after and protect women’s participation in sport?

Women in sport suffer because of their gender being marginalised, discriminated against, abused by male decision-makers, taken for granted and sportswomen treated as a group (like an age group) and not a gender like the male gender.

Get this! Men in sport are not feminists; there are some men in sport who have gender conscious minds. Most men in sport serve the interests of sportsmen and remember here and there to look after and develop, girls and women in sport.

No longer should women’s participation in sport through the sports pyramid rely on men officials to develop women in sport. Sportswomen demand no more discrimination in sport because of their gender. Women in sport are participating in sport with demand being nothing less than gender non-discrimination and gender equity.

I’m not saying that women should break away from sport and have no organizational networking with men. I’m saying that women focusing on women in sport should give more value to women’s participation in sport instead of women relying on men to decide their sports journey. I’m also not saying that women’s only sports federations would be a closed membership affair, open only to girls and women. Other genders are allowed but they muss note that organising women in sport is for women’s interests ONLY.

And who best to develop women in sport with priority being women in sport, than women themselves!

(This is an exploratory debate. This opinion and argument must be further developed further and be ongoing. I have started talking).


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