After four years of intense, expensive and draining preparations, the 7th International Working Group (IWG) on Women in Sport Conference finally got underway in Gaborone this week, with women showing their muscle that they are ready to assume more leading roles in sport.
Co-Chairperson Ruth Maporisa declared: “We seek to globally unify women in sport, giving them a platform to get to know one another, share ideas on how to progress in their respective parts of the world and also to cultivate mutual respect for each other and for others in the world in which we live. At the end of the conference, Botswana as the host of the secretariat for the past four years should have cultivated the legacy and capacity building for sport for women in the country, in the region, in Africa and globally.”
Botswana were awarded hosting rights in 2014 in Helsinki , Finland and will now hand over to New Zealand who will host the 8th IWG on Women in Sport. It was not immediately clear how much it cost the country to bring the conference here; though it seemingly goes well into millions of Pula. However, much more the costs, delegates were celebrating the value created by allowing them to chart the way forward for women in sport.
A heavily packed programme revealed various and deep topics that ventured into the involvement of girl child in sport; inspiration and motivation of female athletes; role of parents in empowering girls in sport; power of mentorship to avoid gender barriers to coaching; Developing female leaders in sports and many other important topics.
The conference was officially opened by Presidential Affairs minister Nonofho Molefhi on Thursday night. Chairperson of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Women in Sport Commission Lydia Nsekera has declared: “Gender equality concerns all of us, women and men, old and young. After all, it is a human right and enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And sport is a powerful platform for advancing it. Continuing the momentum started by the IOC in its gender equality recommendations and at events like the IWG Conference, we will push forward with different governing bodies and sport organisations around the world on our mission to level the playing field for female athletes, by lobbying everyone on and off the field in in sport leadership positions. That is the future”.
Chairperson of the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC), Solly Reikeletseng who has been among those praised for having had the foresight of bidding to have the games come to Botswana has thanked Government for its support.
“When government revised the founding statute of the Botswana National Sport Commission in 2014, we knew that it was intended to facilitate achievements of different sorts at world level like we see today. The BNSC Act Number 30 of 2014 therefore provides for a WASBO Representative in the Board to steer the cause for the interests of women and the girl child in sport at strategic level… The one cardinal outcome of hosting IWG in the last four years is the Gender mainstreaming Strategy in Sport. We commit to implement the strategy in liaison with WASBO and all strategic partners. We have been reliably informed that Botswana is the only country in the Commonwealth nations that has developed and completed the Gender mainstreaming Strategy in Sport,” he said.