August is Women’s Month in South Africa, and it is an opportunity to spotlight all that our women are and have achieved. Besides the month having a very rocky start due to various protest action such as the taxi strike in Cape Town, and service delivery protests in Johannesburg, our women have continued to shine and offer a much-needed energy boost to the country.
Cape Town hosted the Netball Women’s Cup from 28 July to 6 August, where our Proteas narrowly missed qualifying for the semi-finals. South Africa also hosted the 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup in cricket. The women’s national team, also named the Proteas, was the first South African team, male or female, to reach a Cricket World Cup Final in the country’s history.
Banyana Banyana, our national women’s football team, participated in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and reached round 16 – the best result in history for any South African football team, male or female. After Banyana won the Women’s African Cup of Nations in 2022, the public has been placing pressure on the South African Football Association (SAFA) for equal pay for Banyana players as that of their male counterparts, Bafana Bafana. After their stellar performance in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the president of SAFA has declared that Banyana players are set to receive the same amount as Bafana players. We’ll see if they keep their word. If you ask me, the fact that Banaya has been outperforming Bafana and surpassed them on all fronts on the international stage, means that Banyana should be receiving a greater, not equal, pay. But that’s just not realistic at the moment. For now, let’s focus on eliminating the gender pay gap in all industries.
This women’s month has been inspiring in that female sports teams are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Earlier this year, UN Women launched the Sports for Generation Equality Initiative which emphasises the potential sport has to advance women and girls’ empowerment. Sport mobilizes the global community and speaks to youth. Particularly in South Africa, sport has played a major role in uniting the country in the post-Apartheid era. It is a powerful tool to convey important messages, such as non-racialism, non-sexism and anti-xenophabia, in a positive and celebratory environment.
Despite the many hardships we experience in this country, it was truly inspiring to witness the strength and resilience of our women. I look forward to see what else we will achieve and overcome together. Happy Women’s Day to all!
by Traci Hurling