It all started as a dream for some but soon it will be reality as the Secretariat of the International Working Group on Women and Sports prepares to move to Botswana. The country has won the bid to host the IWG secretariat for the coming four years from September 2014 until 2018.
The International Working Group on Women and Sports is a world network that focuses on empowering and persuading women to indulge in sports as much as they want to. This world body aims at changing the pessimistic outlook that the society usually has towards women who take part in sports. Every four years the IWG conference draws global attention to specific goals and action steps aimed at offering men and women equal opportunities in the sport arena. For the next four years the attention of the world will be shifted to Botswana as the country steps up to showcase the value of women involvement in sports culminating in the 7th IWG World Conference on Women and Sports in September 2018.
The development has been hailed a good opportunity to have local women realise that they are as capable as the male counterparts when it comes to sports participation. Botswana Netball Association (BONA) president Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego said - on behalf of the association - she is excited about the opportunities that this will bring with it. Lebotse-Sebego explained that the hosting of IWG secretariat and conference is a blessing since it comes at a time when as a women sport, Botswana netball has a lot of activities to do. “We are happy for this and we are eager to see how we can help,” she said.
Just like their male counterparts that for decades have been dominating the sporting fraternity in Botswana, local women also continue to proof that they are capable when it comes to sports. However, Lebotse-Sebego is of the view that a lot still needs to be done to improve women representation in sports in Botswana. “The representation of women in sport is currently concerning. Just take a look at the board of BNSC and BNOC, there are very few women in these boards,” pointed Lebotse-Sebego.
However, Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) chairperson Solly Reikeletseng revealed that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture Ruth Maphorisa has been appointed the chairperson of IWG. Maphorisa will be leading this group for the coming four years as they prepare for the world conference. As the chairperson Maphosisa will be the mastermind behind IWG and Reikeletseng said “this is the biggest position in sport to be ever held by a Motswana in the world stage. Minister of Trade and Industry Dorcus Makgatho-Malesu has been appointed the Patron of IWG.
According to Reikeletseng, BNSC has been the lead agent in bringing this initiative home through a formal bid which started last year. The BNSC chairperson told the media that this is the biggest and largest event that Botswana has ever hosted. However, he said even though the bar is raised from the previous events this one will also be delivered as promised in the bid document. Reikeletseng, who has faith in Botswana women, believes that they are capable of successfully delivering the conference. All this follows shortly after the end of the Africa Youth Games which were led by a lady – Reginah Sikalesele-Vaka.
This time more than 150 countries are expected to throng Botswana in 2018 for the world conference on women and sports. As a result Reikeletseng has urged companies and individuals to make partnerships with Women and Sports Botswana in preparation for the conference. “Unlike with the youth games, we have four years to prepare therefore more partners have time to come on board and help to successfully host the world,” he explained. According to Reikeletseng, hosting this conference and the Secretariat is not only an achievement for Botswana but for Africa as a whole. Botswana has previously hosted the Women in Sport conference for all African countries in November 2013. The conference, which was said to be a success, was attended by all 54 African countries and now Botswana will be hosting the whole world, more than 200 countries.