Women’s Sports Are Showing The Way To A More Equal Society

By Fiona Wakelin

In his letter to the nation, penned “From the desk of the President” on Monday 7 August, His Excellency focussed on the achievements by South African women in the sporting arena, “Our women’s national football team, Banyana Banyana, the reigning Women’s Africa Cup of Nations champions, has delivered some stunning performances in the FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand. Our women’s netball team, the Proteas, put in a strong showing at the Netball World Cup that ended in Cape Town. In February we hosted the first ICC Women’s T20 Cricket World Cup to take place on African soil. Our national team made history as the first South African team to reach the final,” – President Ramaphosa.

These achievements have been accomplished by overcoming adversity and achieving success despite all odds. President Ramaphosa invoked Women’s Day and how these achievements are a reminder of the journey we have taken in building a South Africa where women are full and equal participants in society. They are also a reminder of how much further we still need to go.

“Participation in sport provides numerous benefits and positive effects. Engaging in sports helps maintain a healthy lifestyle, improving overall physical fitness, building strength, perseverance, endurance and flexibility. Regular physical activity through sports can also reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. Sports can also impart critical life skills like discipline. These skills also include leadership, time management, goal setting and problem-solving. Competing in sports fosters a sense of empowerment among women, helping them build confidence in their abilities and break gender stereotypes. Through sports, women can challenge societal norms, experiencing personal growth and achievement.”

“All of these can enable women and girls to be more assertive and confident in society, and can support the fight against discrimination and gender-based violence,” – H.E. Ramaphosa. He went on to mention that there are both private and public programmes developing mass participation in women’s sports and that one of the major issues is that male-dominated team sports like football, cricket and rugby still receive the lion’s share of funding and sponsorship – these codes all have established professional leagues, whereas women’s football, cricket and rugby do not.

All of this contributes to the huge disparity between the remuneration of female and male athletes – which is an affront to South African sportswomen. His Excellency suggested that sponsors and sporting bodies should direct greater resources to women’s sports – which would then grow and attract larger audiences – this would have a domino effect because with a greater following, women’s sports events will provide greater value to sponsors.

“The success of the major women’s sports tournaments that have been hosted in South Africa will no doubt bolster our bid to host the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2027. Our nation’s sportswomen have proven themselves, time and again. It is up to us, as a society, to provide the necessary environment that will enable a new generation of women and girls to thrive and excel in sport. Working together as government, business and the sporting fraternity we can level the playing field for women’s sports in our country. And by so doing, we will take another step towards a more equal society,” –President Ramaphosa.

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