Region 5 join AU, SADC to celebrate women Kirsty Coventry

Stanley Mutoya in GABORONE, Botswana
THE African Union Sports Council Region 5 joined hands with SADC, AU and WHO in hosting a webinar on Monday, in celebration of women, and their valiant contributions to sport, health and nation building.

The AUSC Region5 are the sports arm of the African Union, responsible for co-ordinating all sports development matters, in Southern Africa.

The AUSC Region 5 member countries are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The webinar, dubbed “The Game Changer” under the theme: “Coping with Covid-19 world — Breaking Barriers for Women in Sport”, was attended by a high powered line-up of women leaders.

They included all four female Ministers responsible for sport in Region 5 — Likeleli Tampane (Lesotho), Anna Paula da Sacremento Neto (Angola), Kirsty Coventry (Zimbabwe) and Deputy Minister Emma Kantema-Gaomas (Namibia).

These were joined by SADC Executive Secretary, Stergomena Lawrence Tax, African Union Commission Director Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development and WHO Botswana Representative, Josephine Namboze.

Minister of Youth and Sport in Malawi, Ulemu Msungama, in his capacity as the Region 5 Council of Ministers vice chairperson, officially welcomed this high-powered team of panelists.

After hosting a successful webinar to mark International Women’s Day on March 8, 2021, the Region organised a two-part web series to unpack key issues affecting women in sport.

The webinar on Monday was the first of this two part series.

Speaking during the panel discussion, Mariama Cisse Mohamed, the AU Commission Director Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, expressed gratitude to Region 5, for being a vibrant entity.

“Sport is an important part of culture that has potential to improve the social and cultural lives of the African people, particularly women, by bringing together different communities, and countries, to build strong cultural identities and shared values,” Mohamed observed.

“In an effort to achieve this goal, the African Union Commission developed a generic sports policy framework and programmes that speak to among other things, gender equality and empowerment, that should be implemented by all Sports Development Regions, Member States and other sport development partners.”

Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the SADC executive secretary, said:

“SADC has been committed to promoting gender equality and women empowerment, since its establishment. Article 5 (1) (k) of the SADC Treaty that was adopted in 1992 recognises mainstreaming of gender as one of SADC’s objectives, and an integral process of community building.”

Zimbabwe’s Coventry presented on a topic close to her heart.

She outlined the plight of female athletes, including what Government was doing, and should do, to help them.

“Women in sport have never wanted to topple their male counterparts but instead have wanted fairness in any, but not limited to the following areas — impartiality in incentive and remuneration structures; fair reporting and media coverage; equity in presentation of opportunities; recognition and celebration of exploits and successes and quality in the distribution of resources.’’

In marking the month of March as Women’s Month, the Region aims to channel focus of people’s attention on the significant role of women in sport and society.

Region 5 offer a Women Leadership Programme meant to groom and mentor women leaders.

The Female Leaders of Tomorrow programme, jointly offered in collaboration with The Association For International Sports for All, adds to the basket of offerings of the Region.

Region 5 have introduced the Woman4Women programme, under the tagline, “One4More” in which one woman is expected to recruit four women, to participate in any sport and recreation activity, of their choice.

The Region 5 “Game Changer” continues with the second, and final episode of the two part series, scheduled for March 22, 2021.

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