STAKEHOLDERS at the just-ended two-day Women and Sport for Africa seminar have called for the closure of gender gaps in the field of sport. Sports Editor of the Times of Zambia, Brenda Katongola, who was part of the more than 30 female journalists who took part in this seminar, said women, female journalists in particular, have to consider themselves as competitors and cover any sporting disciplines available.
“We do not have to look at ourselves as women because if you we do so then we are being taken advantage of.“What this workshop has brought forth is that most of us women regard ourselves as women not competitors or people . . . It (the seminar) has opened up insights that I had overlooked and I will go and work on them.“I will advise journalists to look at every sporting discipline as a sport not feminine or male dominated,” she said.
The International Olympic Committee’s Director in the Department of International Co-operation and Development, Tommy Sithole, said men “have to open up avenues to include women to ensure the survival of the Olympic Movement”.
“Our problem does not rest with women alone but across gender.“We are saying to men they have to make way if they are going to be sustainable, if they are going to be there for a long time, if they want the survival of the Olympic Movement we have to open doors and it is working.“We saw that in London (at the 2012 Olympic Games) where women were involved in all the sports and that was a first.
“People were asking why there were women in boxing but after the event, everybody looked back and said ‘I think that was a good idea’,” Sithole said.Sithole, the former president of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee and Editor of The Herald, said he hoped female journalists, who took part in the two-day seminar in Nairobi, will return to their countries and give more coverage to women involved in various sporting fields.
“I think I will be happy to have a 50 percent buy-in if the journalists who were sitting here would say this was well worth my time and I am going to see what I can write to encourage, to empower women and girls . . . For me that could be a very, very successful outcome.
“This was a regional seminar specifically designed to bring together people who deal with sports writing as it relates to women and for themselves to talk about how they could contribute to the election and campaigning for women because the elections in the Olympic Movement are on a four-year cycle. “As we are going through the election cycle, we want women to understand what the Olympics are about, what Olympism is about.
“We also request them to really look beyond the Olympic Games in that they should support what we call Olympic values one of which is gender equality in the Olympic Movement.”Sithole, however, said the gender issue required men and women to work together as a unit. “I do not think it is a question of the role of women in sport in Africa, this is more about the role of all of us but this is not only in Africa.
Men tend to be in leadership everywhere, in National Olympic Committees and National Federations.“Our job and the duty job of my department is to try and encourage women and to give them the tools they need to profile themselves and submit themselves to elections.“Now our job is to say you have to try, there is no way you will win a lottery without buying a ticket… We can help you (to) buy a lottery ticket, but you must have a ticket when the draw is conducted.
“Therefore this seminar is not only to try to help them buy a ticket but to remind the ticket sellers that they have a constituency out there which they should go out and help.“As a result, I think we have achieved a lot in that regard,” he said.Kenya’s 1968 and 1972 gold medallist in track and field events, the legendary Kipchego Keino, said it was time female journalists united and formed committees across Africa to promote raw talent that is abundant on the continent.