Archive | May, 2016

Rich/Corporate Black Women Must Support South Africa’s Black SportsWomen By Cheryl Roberts

26 May

I’ve written extensively, though not yet exhaustively, about the litany of struggles and battles faced by women in sport, especially the hardships facing working class and black girls and women’s participation in sport.

Despite some assistance here and there from national and provincial government, sports federations don’t have healthy sports budgets to focus on girls and women’s participation in sport. Girls and women are participating in sport, from grassroots to elite and international levels. However, behind this participation are decades of struggle, struggle, and struggle to achieve their sports ambitions.

Sports officialdom knows about the gender inequalities in society which impact on women’s participation and affect how women are able to be assisted to develop and achieve. Because sport in South Africa is male-controlled and influenced, women’s sports advancement and aspirations are heavily influenced by male control of the sports apparatus.

And this means that a feminist and gender-sensitive lens for analysis and support of women in sport is rarely employed to spotlight gender imbalances and eliminate inequalities.

I mention the gender inequalities in all of my writings about women and sport. I never tire of doing this because I believe passionately in eliminating the stranglehold which male control has on the sports network in South Africa.

Throughout my activism of the past decade I have wanted elite and corporate women to not only speak out about the gender inequalities in sport but to also support women in sport, with a particular focus on the marginalised, left out, black and working class sports girls and sportswomen.

I have wanted black professional women, the rich black women and the elite corporate black women to use their power to direct funding to sport to be used largely for the benefit of advancing black girls and women in sport.

But this social responsibility from black women has not been forthcoming. Then we hear of SA’s black businesswoman Wendy Luhabe’s appointment as an executive to the Board of the International Rugby Board. And I think ‘but I have never heard you or seen you being quoted speaking out for black sportswomen.’

What makes a formerly oppressed black woman who has ‘made it’, in democratic South Africa, choose a largely male sport like rugby to give support and time to? What makes professional, moneyed black women sit on corporate and parastatal boards in their own country and watch these boards and companies give money to men’s sport whilst ignoring women in sport? How dare these black women be complicit in ensuring gender imbalances remain in sport and that black women remain traumatised and stressed because of their struggle to get sponsorship and funding? .

I’m not attacking businesswoman Wendy Luhabe. I’m calling out powerful, moneyed, corporate, elite black women about their silence and non-support of black girls and women in sport. Don’t the moneyed and rich and black businesswomen ask why black sportswomen struggle in sport, why is athlete Caster Semenya seemingly the only achieving black sportswoman internationally?

 

Sportswomen are struggling to perform within the male-dominated sports pyramid. Corporate sponsorships of women in sport are few. Sports budgets for sportswomen and sports girls are also just a little here and there and very small. Haven’t the powerful black South African women noticed this? Can they not come along and help support black sports girls and sportswomen?

Some black sportswomen are struggling after retirement from international sport, some are managing to set up foundations. However, most black sportswomen need support and help whilst participating in and competing in sport; financial assistance is particularly required, to cover all the expenses. Why can’t black women-led and headed corporates give some money to elite sportswomen when it’s the very same women who support corporates and buy their business products?

And then we see and approve of a black businesswoman’s appointment to an international sports federation and think, whilst congratulating her, ‘how could you bypass involvement in women’s sport in your own country’. Yeah, I know the choices are personal, dependent on one’s own happiness and pursuit.

But also remember that gender inequalities are not chosen by black women; they are thrust upon the lives of black women, because of structural inequalities, capitalist domination and patriarchal control. And surely black women, when they have achieved some power, can give back and assist to break the shackles and chains which strangle black women? In this instance, I’m talking about black women and their much needed support of struggling black sports girls and black sportswomen.

Khumbulani Pride Remembers The Fallen, Condemns Hate And Attacks Against Women’s Bodies By Cheryl Roberts

19 May

The annual people’s event Khumbulani Pride, taking place this week in cape Town and culminating in a people’s street mach/protest remembers the fallen people, most of them young women and teenage girls who fell victim to attacks of sexual and body hate. The hurt is still there as families and friends and community organisations never forget the attacks which black gay and queer people must endure because they dare to be different from the stereotypes imposed by a heterosexual dominant society.

It’s the ending of young lives of teenage footballer, Zoliswa Nkonyane, Sihle Sikoji and Nontsikelelo Tyateka and all others which galvanises communities into action of resistance and protest against sexual discrimination and attacks. The lives that have ended too quickly, too violently, too soon, too incorrectly and the horrendous sexual attacks and violence,  are forever enshrined in people’s memories and hearts, like the families, the sports teams, the friends and the organisations which protest against sexual discrimination advance a society of non-discrmination and prejudice.

Hate and prejudice attacks against bodies have been violent. They have been condemned. They have been called out and protested against. But still the sexual discrimination, prejudice and attacks continue as if heterosexism is the sole sexual owner of society and despite South Africa having a non-discriminatory constitution.

‘Sparked by the brutal murders of Zoliswa Nonkonyane, Nontsikelelo Tyatyeka, and Waldo Bester amongst others in the Western Cape – Khumbulani Pride remembers these lives by empowering and engaging communities to act against forms of injustice against lgbti people. The event happens in close conjunction with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (17 May) in order to acknowledge the violence faced by LGBTI people all over the world’, says the Khumbulani Pride media statement.

Khumbulani Pride has its beginnings in the year 2013, on the Cape Flats in Cape Town where much of the sexual attacks have taken place and are likely to happen. Khumbulani Pride ain’t another commercial Pride event, such as that organised by the commercially interested and moneyed, white male-dominated Cape Town Pride.

‘In its third year, Khumbulani Pride will be hosted by a network of Cape Town lgbti organisations under the banner Alternative Inclusive Pride Network (AIP). Each year Khumbulani Pride takes place in a different township in the city. This year the event will occur in Langa on 21 May 2016. Pre-Pride activities will begin on 12 May. For more information about these, please refer to the contact information at the bottom of this page.

Through Khumbulani Pride, the AIP Network engages with diverse communities surrounding Cape Town in dialogues about homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia. ‘The Network also celebrates the lives of lgbti people who continue to sustain one another in our communities. Khumbulani Pride is a community event that contributes to the work of making South Africa a place where homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia do not terrorize lgbti people. It is an event that mobilises community members in different townships to care enough not to discriminate or harm others on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation or nationality. Each of the organisations in the Network works towards creating safe and supportive environments for all lgbti persons. This year, we emphasise khumbulani by remembering those who have been killed in the Western Cape through violent acts of hate, including Zoliswa Nkonyana, Waldo Bester, Sihle Sikoji, Sibongile Mphelo, Sasha Lee Gordon, Phumeza Nkolonzi, Nontsikelelo Tyatyeka, Neil Daniels, Ivan Johannes and David Olyne through a rememberance wall,’ says Khumbulani Pride organisers.

‘2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the South African Constitution, the first in the world to recognise LGBTI rights, and comes ten years after South Africa became the first (and still only) country in Africa to allow same sex marriage.  This remembrance Pride comes at a time when crucial hate crime legislation is being drafted in South Africa to outlaw hate crimes, including those carried out against the LGBTI community.

‘We invite lgbti individuals, allies and community members to join us in remembering members of our community we have lost to the violence of homophobia and transphobia and in celebrating the resilience of our communities. We want Khumbulani Pride events to move us toward a future of safety, security, and celebration of lgbti people in our communities. Please join us in working towards ending homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia in our communities.

‘On 21 May 2016, the Pride March in Langa will resume at 10 a.m. at the corner will be followed by a programme in Monwabisi Sports and Recreation Centre.

The March on 21 May 2016 in Langa will start at 10am at the open field which is at the intersection of Jakes Gerwel Dr. and King Langalibalele (Washington Road) and end at the Monwabisi Sports and Recreation Centre with a programme of activities.’

This people’s Khumbulani Pride takes place in the hood, in the people’s backyards and hangout places, where communities look out for each other but also where the negatives within society prey on those who seemingly don’t fit the heterosexual billing.

Although not many of them and with nominal resources, organisers of Khumbulani Pride work tirelessly to ensure a memorable and well-organised week long event. There will be some partying and pleasure moments which will wrap Khumbulani Pride after the community march in Langa on Saturday, but most importantly, all participants and supporters of Khumbulani Pride will be strengthened to defend and advance ownership of black people’s bodies, especially, black, queer women’s bodies.

 funeka soldaat

Khumbulani Pride Is Black Queer Dignity And Celebration By Cheryl Roberts

13 May

International days of awareness against homophobia, sexual discrimination and transphobia happens around the world. These anti-homophobia days are aimed at critically engaging opinion and thought away from all discrimination and phobia when someone is not heterosexual.

In South Africa this day is both acknowledged and celebrated throughout the country with all events and gatherings hopefully contributing to elimination of sexual discrimination.

Khumbulani Pride is celebrated annually in Cape Town, a city of vast and disparate social and economic inequalities and a city which allows its Cape Town Pride to be white dominated and controlled primarily for white, male, wealthy middle class people.

Khumbulani Pride is black owned, mainly by black queer, gay, non-heterosexual, LGBT people and the event is located within and amongst black and working class communities.

This hood-based event shows up the wrongs and shortcomings of the white-male dominated Cape Town Pride which annually, is not only held in affluent areas of Cape Town, but also centers white male gay people as its target community. This Cape Town Pride is about money and, because the rich and middle class have the money to spend, Cape town Pride has lost its birthing function and reason for purposeful community existence by becoming an event and organisation which marginalises and excludes black and working class gay and queer people.

Khumbulani Pride is a people’s event of celebration, for the people, by the people and with the people. This year’s week long event takes place in May and culminates in a walk/march down the iconic Washington Street in Langa, the township which was the scene of the 1960 Sharpeville uprisings by oppressed blacks under the apartheid regime.

South Africa today is democratic with a voting right accorded to all over 18 yrs of age citizens. But it’s within society where black queer and gay people, despite a progressive constitution, face homophobia and sexual discrimination.

People’s lives have been taken out of society; they have been lost to hate acts of crime because some thinking amongst people within black communities is that heterosexual behaviour is the ‘ONLY’ behaviour and must be adhered to.

On the day of the march/walk/protest, Khumbulani Pride takes to the streets with chants and posters of ‘Down with Sexual Discrimination’, ‘No Homophobia’, ‘No Transphobia’, ‘My Sexuality Belongs To Me’. The march represents a confidence to own one’s black body and to feel safe on the streets without fear of being attacked.

Sexual discrimination must be mooted out of society. Heterosexism has no rightful or superior place in society. All sexualities must be equal and should not be discriminated against. This is what Khumbulani Pride preaches and celebrates. Most importantly, this celebration and protest is done with the consent and organisation of the people who matter and who must benefit from the protest action. Khumbulani Pride doesn’t give space to white, male gays and rich, moneyed, middle class people. Khumbulani Pride protects the vulnerable, black, non-moneyed gay and queer people.

Just a few years into existence and Khumbulani Pride is growing in awareness and people support. The protest march is getting bigger. And people’s confidence is also increasing and growing powerful. Khumbulani Pride also exposes the opportunism of the black middle class queer people who choose to attend and support the white-dominated Cape Town Pride, yet don’t give support to Khumbulani Pride events.

Community support and recognition is what propels Khumbulani Pride, an event rooted in community struggles and victories. Khumbulani Pride should be supported by thousands of people who believe in a non-discriminatory society and who demand an end to sexual discrimination. Khumbulani Pride is a people’s event and doesn’t represent the interests and power of the white-dominated Pride events held in the city. Khumbulani Pride is a powerful people’s movement which builds power for the people by the people in people’s communities.

 

walk for justice freegender

Free Gender Khayelitsha are one of the organisers of Khumbulani Pride

Women Demand National Sports Budget For Sportswomen By Cheryl Roberts

9 May

For too long and for overdue years and decades, have sportswomen and sports girls, especially black and working class women and girls,  been underfunded in sport in South Africa. Money and funding allocated to South Africa’s women in sport and sportswomen is too little, not enough and severely restrictive when it come to participation of girls and women in sport.

Because of unequal sports funding over the years, its the sportsmen who have been given much more and plentiful opportunities for their participation in sport and develop their sports prowess. Sportswomen have had to struggle, battle, hustle everyday and always.

This unequal sports distribution and funding has been and is consistently called out by many sports officials, gender activists and the sportswomen themselves who suffer because of this despicable inequality in sport. Sportswomen have had to watch sportsmen being heavily and lucratively funded, playing in national professional leagues, having all their expenses covered while the women in sport, especially the elite sportswomen must hold down jobs to maintain an income to keep surviving and put in the training hours after work and in between studies.

Admittedly, through pressure mounted and calls for women in sport to be given deserving deals in sport, more attention is being placed on girls and women’s participation in sort. At national level, elite sportswomen are being assisted by SASCOC and SRSA to compete internationally. But this assistance is is not enough and doesn’t do much to eliminate gender inequalities in the sports paradigm.

But this assistance is all too little and not adequate. Its not that sportswomen are ungrateful. It’s not enough. Sportswomen are not greedy. They are demanding their rightful and correct funding in a country which looks after its sportsmen with more than generous financial handouts.

In the national budgets drawn up by national sports federations, as the marginalised and disadvantaged, women in sport are not given special priority or attention. They are given some money here and there with a special focus during August, which is South Africa’s women’s month. But for 11 months of the year sports women and sports girls are sandwiched in between all other sports activities which must be presented and carried out by the sports federation with their nominal funding received from Lotto and SRSA.

A national sports budget which prioritises and exclusively develops girls and women in sport, is what is needed and must be implemented. Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalula is calling out what he says is ‘slow transformation progress’. What he must do is call out the gender inequalities, discrepancies and unjust funding in South African sport.

During his term in office Mbalula has initiated some sports women events with a focus on women in sport. But these are ad hoc responses. We want a sustained response and this must flow out of a national sports budget with provincial sports budgets, solely developing girls and women in sport.

 

What will a national sports budget do for women in sport? Most importantly, this budget will be focused only on girls and women in sport; the neglected, marginalised and under funded gender in sport. It will put put positive pressure on sports federations to prioritise girls and women’s participation in sport and improve and advance their participation. From the grassroots to elite, international participation in sport, girls and women must be supported out of this national sports budget.

However, this national sports budget cannot improve girls and women’s participation and make meaningful impact on their participation in sport if this budget is mediocre with limited funds and financial resources. This budget has got to be as big as those supporting men’s rugby, men’s football and men’s cricket. And we all know these budgets and funding allocations are big and lucrative, allowing men and boys lots of available funds to be assisted in sports development.

South Africa’s girls and women are still struggling to participate in sport. At community and grassroots level, its the volunteer sports officials who assist the girls development in sport. Sometime local and provincial governments of sport assist here and there, but not all of working class sport. Girls are missing out on opportunities to participate and in turn, this impacts on the talent coming through the sports pyramid.

This marginalisation of girls and women in sport because of unequal and discriminatory funding must be stopped. A well-supported national sports budget for women and girls in sport should go a long way in rectifying the gender imbalances and disparities.  IMG_9723