I’m a firm believer in gender equality, empowering women and strongly passionate about equal rights, equal pay and equal recognition not only when it comes to female athletes but for women in general. I have a five-year old daughter and I hope one day she will love sports as much as I do.
She will certainly be encouraged to play, learn and get involved in a variety of sports as a kid. And if she chooses to take sport further, like most kids, I hope that she will have access to the same opportunities as her male counterparts.
Gender equality in sports has always been a controversial discussion. Throughout history, women in sport had to submit to male dominated sports organisations and structures in order to participate. The world-acclaimed Olympic Games are a key example of women having to merge and submerge with a male dominated organisation.
Even the founder of the Olympics, Baron de Coubertin once said “No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism is not cut out to sustain certain shocks”. Sexist much, isn’t?
The first Modern Olympics Games held in 1896 did not allow women participants and when women were allowed to participate in 1900, it was in only three sports codes and out of the 1 225 athletes only 19 were women.
Although gender equality has come a long way including major institutions like UNESCO, Fiba and FIFA recognizing the gap in gender equality and coming up with innovative ideas to support women in sports, it still hasn’t come far enough it appears.
And every day in this country, we are all complicit in witnessing the injustices done to female athletes and we continue to turn a blind eye on the ongoing prejudices. We hardly question the status quo when it comes to gender inequality. Be it whatever sport code, volleyball, basketball, tennis, karate, netball and football, and over the years the popularity of women partaking in this sports has grown unfortunately the media coverage, while the dollars from the government and various state-owned entities has not really followed through as gender equality to date remains a thorn in the flesh of Namibians.
What it all boils down to is that we collectively, men and women, cooperates, and the government included need to do more about gender equality in sports. We need to pave the way for our daughters, just as we do our sons.
There should be no disparity in sports, nor in the workplace, nor in life. Women and men should be seen as, and treated as, equals in all respects. Gender should not be the thing that defines us or separates us from our fellow athletes. Let’s show our daughters that they can be whatever they want to be, and get paid well for it too!
* Tuzera-Otjiua Jeomba is a young women’s rights activist who avidly follows local sport and socio-economic developments. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.