Gender inequality in sports has always been a highly heated and widely debated topic; why is it that women are so restricted when it comes to the different sporting codes when men are not? When watching television or any sporting channel, one is most likely to see men playing rather than women. This is how women are then side lined in the various sports and made to be inferior to men. You will hear a man say that women’s sporting event is “boring” even though it is the exact same sport that they show men playing on television all the time. Many women do participate in sport, however, there are two main problems: the lack of publicity and media coverage when it comes to sportswomen and sexism.

The results of a study administered in South Africa regarding whether or not people are knowledgeable about famous sportswomen was astounding; those who were asked about the world’s best and most popular female golfer did not know the answer to the question, and this is a problem among everyone. Because sports and athletics are associated primarily with men and the field is male-dominated, sportsmen are normalized and celebrated while their female counterparts are ignored and their successes are largely trivialized. Contrasting the survey regarding sportswomen, the number of people who knew the answer regarding the world’s most famous and successful male golfer compared to the number of people who did not know the answer was equally astounding. When asked, the answer was a unanimously Rory McElroy.

In many African countries, there were ancient and traditional beliefs that did not allow for women to take part in any sporting activities and this still affects the women of today. Due to these ancient values and beliefs that have travelled through several generations, it is still a taboo for women to not only play sports, but to be good at them. While the change in Africa is still very slow, there is hope. As an avid sports fan, I hope that a time will come when sportswomen are not stigmatized or stereotyped solely on the basis of their gender. The portrayal of women in sport represents a broader social framework and unchallenged pre-existing patriarchal structures that still favor men over women, primarily in the African continent.

Image Courtesy: Francky Dicaprio (Wiki Commons) Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license

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