Pres. On Monday, in the run-up to Women’s Day, Cyril Ramaphosa dedicated his latest newsletter to South Africa’s high-achieving sportswomen. He committed his government to the promotion of women’s sports and expressed his displeasure with the fact that sportswomen earn less than sportsmen.
This newsletter follows in response to, among other things, the Protea netball team which finally finished sixth in the World Cup netball tournament’s ranking and the Banyana Banyana women’s soccer team which, beyond all expectations, qualified for the knock-out rounds of the World Cup.
“It was a wonderful year for women’s sport in South Africa,” says Ramaphosa in his newsletter. “Our female athletes have reached new heights across a number of sports codes, and we have hosted several international women’s sports tournaments.”
Ramaphosa then says that these achievements serve as a reminder of how far South Africans have come to build a South Africa where women are full and equal participants in society. “It is also a reminder of how much further we still have to go,” says Ramaphosa.
The president points out in his letter that women’s participation in sports promotes the empowerment of women and gender equality.
“Competing in sport promotes a sense of empowerment among women, which helps them build confidence in their abilities and break down gender stereotypes. Through sport, women can challenge social norms and experience personal growth and achievement. It can enable women and girls to be more assertive and confident in society, and can support the fight against discrimination and gender-based violence.”
However, Ramaphosa is well aware that male players sometimes earn more than their female counterparts.
“Equal pay for work of equal value is one of the most fundamental principles of gender equality. The sports fraternity is neither exceptional nor exempt.
“That female athletes must still earn less than their male counterparts is an insult to our country’s sportswomen, all the more so at a time when the achievements of some of our women’s sports teams surpass those of our men’s teams.”
The president therefore appealed to sponsors and sports bodies to push more resources into women’s sports. “It is only through increased sponsorship and support that women’s sport will be able to grow and attract larger audiences. As they have a larger following, women’s sporting events will offer greater value to sponsors,” says Ramaphosa.
“Our country’s sportswomen have proven themselves time and time again. It is now 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.”