When Will South African Government Provide Better Deal For South Africa’s Sportswomen?  By Cheryl Roberts

19 Mar


 In our South Africancapitalist society, inequalities in sport across class, gender and colour willexist. But who in South African sport is going to take action and lead theprogramme that will root out gender inequalities in sport, the nationalprogramme that will ensure women’s sports and sportswomen will be accorded thefoundation of strength through to elite levels of the pyramid, to participate in sport?
What I am asking here iswho is going to take responsibility and shake men’s control of the South African sports network? Its not that we are against men being officials and leaders in sport. No, it’s not that. Its because men officialdom have shown over the centuries and decades that they prioritise men’s involvement in sport with resource and money allocation and don’t care much about eradicating and eliminating gender inequalities in sport. The national sports federations in South Africa – most of them – men controlled will say they support doing more for women in sport but always table the excuse there is ‘no money’.
I have asked this often: If there is money for men’s sports why can’tthere be money for women’s sports? So to whom does women insport and sportswomen turn to in our national bid to eliminate gender inequalities in sport? We have had enough of getting some crumbs here andthere, some handouts sometimes. We want sportsgirls and sportswomen to participate in sport without the chains that shackle them. So now we turn to our national government to speak out aginst the gender inequalities in sport because a national government that allows such inequalities to grow and fester and be consolidated reflects a government seemingly unconcerned about women’s sport not getting the support it should be getting.

South Africa’s Minister of Sport is fully aware of the gender inequalities in sport. After all, South African society is littered with inequalities. But there’s nothing forthcoming from the Minister of Sport nor his ministry about how they are going to challenge men’s control of sport. What would we like to seebeing put forward by the Minister of Sport. Firstly, call in all national sports federations and lay down the ground rule – make it a national sports commandment – that there should be no male gender preference over women’ssports in any sport where both genders are participating in the sport. Makenational sports officialdom understand this! Ask each national sportsfederation about their objectives to eliminate gender inequalities in theirsport and advance girls and women’s participation in their sport. Ask the men dominated sports of rugby, football, cricket, boxing why so few domestic competitions are held for women in these sports. Demand a time frame for genderinequalities to be eliminated, for women’s participation in sport to beprioritised on the same level as men in sport. Address the challenges of moeyallocation to fund women in sport, men’s control of sport, sexism, misogyny,abuse, rape in sport.   Secondly, hold discussions with corporates and ask each corporate to sponsor/fund at least one women’ssport, one national team and several sportswomen.  Media must also be called in and told to conscientise their content, to create and feature content that centers women insport. These discussions must be forthright and on point. Our objective is to look after all genders participating in sport, to provide strong foundations for all in sport, to prioritise all genders and not only men in sport. Government must stipulate what is required for us as a society to overcome inequalities and unlock all potential and talent in sport. Government has the power to do this. Most importantly, government can implement laws that will compel all involved with sport to never consolidate gender inequalities in sport.

We acknowledge our world, Olympic and continental sportswomen champions and world class sportswomen produced through South Africa’s sports network, throughout the post-apartheid era. This doesn’t mean SA’s sportsgirls and sportswomen haven’t struggled against the adversity of participating in sport in an unequal society. Nor does it mean that the system has been just to women in sport. Sponsorship and funding ofwomen’s sports remains one of the biggest challenges women and sport must encounter and confront. A little sponsorship here and there has surfaced but its always after litany of struggles experienced by the elite sportswomen. If corporates can sponsor men’s sport, the they can also sponsor women’s sports.
South Africa’s current Minister of Sport, since assuming office hasn’t indicated his intentions of advancing women’s sports in SA. Congratulating some of SA’s sportswomen on social media doesn’t eliminate gender inequalities! We demand a national programme of action, instituted and implemented by the sports ministry and adhered to by all national sports federations.
For how much longer must wego on calling out gender discrimination in sport, gender inequalities in sport in SA? We have had enough and want government intervention to call to order national sports federations, to challenge and stop men’s control of sport and toforce corporates to sponsor women’s sport. Government has the power to do this and they have the support of SA’s sportswomen. 


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