Attending the @NetballWorldCup final match this evening and the atmosphere is electric. Had an opportunity earlier to meet and personally thank the @SPARProteas who have really done us proud during this tournament. Our girls put on a solid performance and put up a really good… pic.twitter.com/iYvOwQbmoA
Many of these fine sportswomen have excelled despite humble beginnings, overcoming adversity and achieving success despite the odds.
As we prepare to celebrate Women’s Day later this week, these many achievements are a reminder of how far we have come 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.
The increased participation of women and girls in sport supports women’s empowerment and advances gender equality. Earlier this year, UN Women launched the Sports for Generation Equality Initiative. It noted that sport holds enormous capacity to propel women and girls’ empowerment. Female athletes are inspiring role models and can make the most of their status “to raise awareness around gender issues and to demand change”.
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.
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.
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.
As we prepare to celebrate Women’s Day later this week, these many achievements are a reminder of how far we have come in building a South Africa where women are full and equal participants in society.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa