Ellina Mhlanga Sports Reporter
Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane yesterday underscored the importance of the involvement of women in sport. Hlongwane was speaking at the official opening of the Women in Sport and Recreation Conference in Harare.
The conference dubbed “Empowering Women Through Sport and Recreation,” was organised by the Sport and Recreation Commission in collaboration with Bindura University National Sports Academy. And it attracted women from different organisations, including national sport associations and tertiary institutions.
Hlongwane, who was the guest of honour, said the Sport and Recreation policy adopted last year by Government talks about the inclusion of women. “I am cognisant that the current Sport and Recreation policy makes specific mention of the inclusion of women and the vulnerable groups such as the disabled.
‘‘This policy statement needs to be buttressed by specific action programmes. Ladies and gentlemen, this conference can be one way in which we may be able to come up with specific resolutions which can be followed up with various sport delivery agents to include the Ministry of Sport and Recreation.
“Government takes very seriously the inclusion of women and that is why in our National Sport and Recreation Policy we have a whole priority area for equity and inclusion.
‘‘And that priority area on equity and inclusion speaks to the inclusion of women, the integration of women in mainstream sporting and recreation activities.
“Now concrete steps need to be taken to actualise the intention of government as captured in this very important policy document. And a conference such as this one is very important. It reminds you that some of the issues that you are going to be discussing about relate to how concrete steps can be taken to provide for inclusion of women, equitable involvement of women in our sport and recreation activities in our country,” Hlongwane.
The conference drew presenters with diverse business and sporting experiences to tackle various issues concerning women in sport.
Ministry of Sport and Recreation director sport promotion and development Eugenia Chidhakwa spoke about organisation of sport and recreation in Zimbabwe where she challenged women to take the lead in ensuring their voices are head. She also spoke about the need to celebrate achievements by women.
Zimbabwe Olympic Committee chief executive Anna Mguni presented a paper on the benefits of sport and recreation and narrowing the discrimination gap.
City of Harare acting town clerk Josephine Ncube took the participants through the role of local authorities in promoting women in sport and recreation.
Debi Jeans, a sports medicine specialist and former Judo Association of Zimbabwe president talked about injury prevention in female athletes.
Bindura University of Science Education vice chancellor Eddie Mwenje weighed in to say a level playing field for both men and women is the way to go.
“As a university we acknowledge the importance of sport in the development of a nation. We acknowledge that a level playing field in sport and recreation should be availed to all women and hence the need to remove barriers that hinder the progress and growth of sport in our nation.
“Bindura University of Science Education has not been left out of the race to empower women,’’ she said.