SPEECH ON WOMEN AND SPORT DIALOGUE BY MS. TOKOZILE XASA (MP) MINISTER OF SPORT AND RECREATION SA
Good Morning Ladies
Today we meet here under a theme: 100 Years of Albertina Sisulu: Women United in Moving South Africa Forward #BeTheLegacy - Change the Culture of Sport for Women.
We are here under a solid foundation of many women who charted the path for us, in particular the generation of women of 1956. It was those women who confronted Apartheid in the lawns of Union Buildings and told Prime Minister Strydom that they will not carry pass laws. The march was not only about pass laws but to affirm the role of women as part and parcel of South Africa’s liberation. Therefore, we too we owe it to future generation to undermine the culture of sport that make women second to men. We must demand gender parity in sport in all its facets.
I therefore hope we will start a journey together to make women in sport to be in the centre of whatever we do. For today’s agenda, the dialogue aims to highlight these few objectives:
• Create awareness about Womens role in sport
• Assess progress in the area of gender equity in the area of sport and recreation
• Provide a platform for sharing ideas experience and best practice.
• Commit to implementing key actions for organisations/entities
As we gather today, we must understand that the agenda of sport is bigger than we can possibly imagine, the United Nation alludes that“The practice of physical education and sport is a fundamental right for all.”That sport and physical activity promote involvement, integration and responsibility in society and has great contribution in the social cohesion of the nation. We know it too well what sport did in our country, when we were in the verge of civil war, Mandela whom we are also celebrating his centenary this year used sport to unite our nation. Sport continues to affirm that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, in particular when our national teams do well, we celebrate together. Sadly while women and girls account for more than half of the world’s population, the culture of sport has made their participation in sport and physical activity to be less than that of men and boys. It is this culture we must confront and defeat.
The National Development plan, refers to sport as “An important enabler of sustainable development. We recognise the growing contribution of sport to the realization of development and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect and the contribution it makes to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities as well as to health, education and social inclusion objectives.”
The Commission on Gender Equity further mandates us as the department to:
• Introduce educational awareness activities to promote sport for the girl-child and to address gender equality in sport.
• In its plan indicate the need to promote and support women in sport, and put measures in place to address gender parity in sporting codes and structures.
• Must put systems in place to ensure all sports are accessible to women and girl-children.
In responding to all these policy directives the department of sport and recreation has made notable achievements.
Netball which is one major sport for women has a semi-professional league, a total of 300 players per financial year participated in the Brutal Fruit Netball league. Sponsorship secured includes Brutal Fruit (SAB), Tsogo Sun and Supersport broadcasting rights. Players in the league have gone to play in professional leagues in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Premier Hockey League caters for both female and male players. The department continues to provide both financial and technical support to South African Hockey Association and it has secured broadcasting rights. Of significance male and female players are paid the same stipends. The league has in 2018 secured a naming sponsor.
With the top three most popular sporting codes, Cricket, Football and Rugby, the federations continue receiving funding allocations specifically aimed at creating participation opportunities for women.
SAFA received funds primarily for women’s football. In addition to the annual allocation to SAFA for Women’s football, the department has earmarked additional R5m for the establishment of the Women’s Football League for the 2018/19 financial year.
Cricket South Africa received a total allocation of R10m over the period, with some of the programmes implemented: Women coach development, Women and School Sport Programme and development of girls and women cricket. Cricket South Africa has started to contract female cricket players as they do with their male counterparts.
With Rugby, South African Rugby Union received a total of R8,3m, with some of the programmes implemented being Girls Rugby Competition and Women’s Inter-Provincial Competition.
We are starting to see the fruits of our intervention as the department but we are nowhere close on gender parity. Of 20 sporting codes audited 2 have Presidents, that being Gymnastics and Netball. Women board representation, only seven (7) have achieved the Transformation Report target. The demographic profiles of leadership like boards and CEOs reflect culture and value set of sporting codes. Therefore we need to transform sport not only in the playing fields but in the decision making. The next transformation report (EPG) which is a guide to transformation will have a dedication for women. We must not only transform race, we have a duty to transform gender.
How is the future looking? There has been a positive girl’s participation in school sport championships since the financial year 2013/14 from 49% girl’s participation to 52% girl’s participation in the financial year 2017/2018. This is an indication that in the planning and implementation of the programme women’s needs have largely catered for and prioritised.
This is also a reflection in the Youth Camps, which are attended by participants from various backgrounds, where young people are taught leadership and life skills. Both these developments augers well for the future, must we must jealously guide our girls not to falter.
As we craft the Women in sport policy, the policy should address itself to:
- Incentives for companies sponsoring women in sport in the form of higher tax rebate.
- Recognition & accolades for companies sponsoring women sport in the form of Awards & Annual recognition certificate.
- Lobby ICASA for Sport Broadcasting Regulations to include a system for women sport coverage.
- Issuing Ministerial Directives in line with the findings of the Transformation Report (EPG) and enforcing the directives by linking annual findings to their achievements.
It is only when we truly work together can we change the culture and values of sport to be inclusive. I hope you will avail yourselves to the Women Indaba that will substantiate further the Women in Sport Policy.
In conclusion, I must thank women who have been trail blazers in sport, they have created a base for our young girls to emulate, because of them our girls they too believe they can do it. As a nation we will always be highly indebted to:
- Portia Modise, A former player of the Women’s football team, she is the first African female player to reach the 100th goal scored for the national team.
- Caster Semenya, Our golden girl, she is a double and triple world champion in the 800m distance and many achievements.
- Penny Heyns, she is the only woman in the Olympic Games to have won 100m and 200m breaststroke events and she is considered one of the greatest breaststroke swimmers.
- Natalie Du Toit, With her many achievements, at the 2001 Manchester Commonwealth games, she broke records when she swam the multi-disability 100m freestyle as well as multi-disability 50m freestyle.
- Kass Naidoo, She is the first female cricket commentator
- Cynthia Tshaka, She is the first Black sports presenter on TV
And many women who have done well for our nation that I could not mention. These are women who have been torch-bears, those who have been in the cold front of women struggles in sport, who undermined the cultural logic of patriarchy in sport.
In his Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela had this to say, “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious Vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities.”
Indeed let us take this moment and reflect how far we have gone, but keep in mind that there is still a long way to Women emancipation.
I thank you