Saturday, July 31, 2021

Sporting boards urged to place priority on gender diversity

Botswana is being encouraged to initiate systemic change in order to change the gross underrepresentation of women in sport, especially in off-field roles. 

Whilst gender inequality in sport governance and coaching is nothing new, it has been noted that women in Botswana sometimes struggle to fill top executive and coaching roles mainly because of individual biases and filters.

The same sentiments were also shared in a 2019 research paper which highlighted that: “Whilst Botswana should be credited for opening doors for high-performance female coaches, it is also important to note that other doors are being shut for such coaches because of the unfavourable environment which for the most part provides a dual pathway for male coaches”.

The report went on further to say that “on a basic level, boards must place priority on diversity and ensure that the evaluation of women is not done through filters such as gender, age or even ethnicity because this only benefits the males”.

Speaking to The Telegraph Sport, Thato Dintle a Sports consultant responsible for reviewing and analysing trends in the sports industry and providing feedback to improve sales and performance for clients said in order to ensure the success of female coaches, Botswana should ensure that there is enough political will, diversity of opinions and genders and fearless voices making bids for women in sport.

Amongst other things, she said government of Botswana might want to consider granting sports bodies funding based on the gender breakdown of their leadership positions — both in the office and on the field.

“This is an effective approach which has on most occasions resulted in a surge of the women in sport serving in leadership positions and provided for them to play a part in positions of influence and power in sport,” she says adding that countries which have adopted the 40 per cent requirement for female directors on boards have generated much diversity and removed biases.

In Africa, only Malawi has more than 40% women on their national Olympic committee.

Unless there is a concrete plan to support women through programmes such as leaders in sport, then the number of women on boards and high-performance coaches will remain low. Gender parity in sport is not just fair in principle, but a very wise and smart investment.

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