International Working Group on Women and Sport (IWG) Secretary General Game Mothibi has expressed delight at the gender related conversations generated by an all women lobby list for the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) executive committee elections.
Eyebrows were raised last week as BNOC presidential hopeful Tebogo LebotseSebego revealed she will be running with an all women team for all positions in the BNOC board.
In her lobby list, LebotseSebego has Naledi Dikgomo-Goulden as senior vice president, Keenese Katisenge as vice president, Tsuna Makwa as second vice president while Irene Ntelamo and Yarona Sharp are in the list as Additional members.
The list has been met with mixed emotions. Some, more especially men questioned its all women composition.
“As a woman in sport and an advocate of women in sport, I have to admit I am very happy with the emergence of the list. It has created conversations on women issues in Botswana sports and that is very critical,” Mothibi said.
“It has helped all of us, as men and women in sport, to engage on issues related to women in Botswana sports,” she revealed.
The IWG SG said the emergence of the list challenged the status quo and brought into perspective how the landscape of local sport is skewed against women.
“From my observation, the reaction elicited by the list has shown that local sport is not ready for women. It has challenged the landscape of gender equality issues in Botswana,” Mothibi said.
“What was disappointing from the reaction was that from the onset, all people saw were just women, not capable leaders. All people questioned was why all women, without even checking whether the list was made of capable leaders. Gender came ahead of capability,” the IWG SG opined.
“In the past, we have seen an all men lobby list or lobby lists with one woman but no one saw any wrong in it. This list therefore breaks the barriers and highlights issues of gender stereotyping in our sport,” she said.
With Botswana hosting the International Working Group (IWG) world conference on women and sport in 2018, Mothibi said the conversations generated by the all women lobby list is very welcome.
“If we can have these conversations and may be have at least 40 percent of women on the BNOC board, I believe we will have a good story to tell come the IWG World Conference,” Mothibi opined.
She said since the not so good first reaction to the all women lobby list, she has now seen a lot of people coming forward to embrace the fact that women can lead.
“I believe there has since been a shift in perceptions and some tweaking of the mindsets. For us as IWG and women in sports, this shift is very welcome,” she concluded.
Commenting on the matter, LebotseSebego said while the issues of gender stereotyping in sports are always uncomfortable to discuss among many, she is happy that people can finally engage and have conversations on the issues.
“I am very happy that we are now having these conversations and openly engaging on them. We will be hosting the IWG World Conference next year and it will be inappropriate if we talk the talk but not walk the talk,” she said.
LebotseSebego said while aware that the decision to have an all women lobby list could backfire and end with none making it into the BNOC office, it was however taken deliberately.
“We are taking a gamble and challenging the status quo while knowing very well that we may not make it into the posts. We knew this was going to be an issue but we did it deliberately,” she said.
She said for a long time now, when people were asked why there are not as many women in various committee, the answer given was that ‘women do not stand for elections.’
“The list we have come up with therefore tries to challenge this notion. It will give us a chance to see whether this notion was just an excuse or not,” she said.
The BNOC presidential hopeful said the lobby list is also meant to challenge the existing perceptions that women do not support other women.
“Interestingly, ever since the lobby list emerged, we have had women coming forth to give us support, thus taking the Mickey out of that perception that women do not support women,” said LebotseSebego.
LebotseSebego said while she hopes the all women board can make it past elections, she however would be happy to have at least 40 percent women representation in the BNOC board.
“The increment in the number of women standing for positions therefore gives us better probabilities of having more women representation in leadership positions,” she concluded.