SAFA walks the talk on women empowerment in football

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Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

Cape Town – The South African Football Association (safa) is proving its seriousness about making women empowerment in football a priority.   

Conversely, the number of women in leadership positions in South African football in the past five years has grown significantly, albeit, not as fast as SAFA would like.

“While we do face many challenges towards gender equity, we have made significant progress.”

So said Ria Ledwaba, a SAFA executive committee member, following her presentation at the CAF Women’s Symposium in Marrakesh, Morocco, last Thursday.

“We are well aware of the patriarchal culture in the South African society, and it is even more evident in sport, including football. For this reason, we are making a concerted effort to advance the role of women in football.”

Ledwaba said SAFA wanted to ensure that generations of girls understood that there was a future for women in sport, particularly in football.

According to SAFA, since 2013, women empowerment has been a core theme of the football governing body that has put in place a coordinated effort to increase the number of women in leadership roles in the sport. 

It noted that to this end, four women sit on the national executive committee. All the 53 SAFA regions have a woman vice-president; two regions now have women presidents; all the women’s national teams have a women head coach; two South Africans are coaching in the USA.

Ledwaba and fellow SAFA executive committee member, Anastasia Tsichlas, also made presentations at the CAF Symposium centred on initiatives that could be implemented at the local level to advance women empowerment in football on the continent.

SAFA president, Danny Jordaan, said: “Research suggests that the pace of change towards gender equity globally is very slow across sectors including business, politics and of course sports administration. It is, therefore, imperative that we as sports administrators do all we can to advance women empowerment.”

Jordaan said the focus on empowerment was the main driver behind the current success of Banyana Banyana as well as the junior women’s national teams.

SAFA CEO, Dennis Mumble, echoed Jordaan’s views, saying that the association would continue to push for gender equity.

“We have proactively engaged our 53 regions to do all they can to ensure that women are represented in the leadership levels. As you can see, we have had quite some success but, of course, much still needs to be done,” said Mumble.

“As a South African football community dominated by men, we believe that women are not just here to make up the numbers; rather women must and will play a fundamental role in the growth and development of the sport at all levels.”

 

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