DESTROYING THE TOP 10 AFRICAN MYTHS ABOUT WOMEN IN SPORTS

DESTROYING THE TOP 10 AFRICAN MYTHS ABOUT WOMEN IN SPORTS
February 21, 2020 Youth Sports Movement

Myth 1: Women Empowerment Comes at the Expense of Men

In most parts of Africa, it is misunderstood that empowering women is a win-lose game in which women win and men lose. On the contrary, when African women are educated, allowed to register businesses, open bank accounts, sign contracts, get jobs, and choose their career paths, they have so much value to add to the men and household economy.

Myth 2: Women Can’t Do Sport

We believe that sport should be for everyone. We also know that over 3 million women than men play sport each week. We work on behalf of every African woman to help narrow the gender gap and bring more sport into their everyday lives. It is vital that African women enjoy the same access to and benefit from sport as men.

Myth 3: Women Crack under Pressure

Let’s take a look at Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She earned the nickname “Iron Lady” as an opposition leader who didn’t flinch in one of the world’s most treacherous political landscapes. She fearlessly criticized Liberia’s fiscal management, even when that meant house arrest and, in one case, prison. But Johnson Sirleaf could not be broken. More than five years later, Johnson Sirleaf has increased Liberia’s annual budget from $80 million in 2006 to $350 million and wiped clean a $4.9 billion debt. Girls’ school enrolment has shot up, as has the proportion of women in legislative seats.

Myth 4: Sport Hinders Childbearing

Most women who are used to vigorous, intense sport are not affected by infertility and are fine to continue their level of sport activities through getting pregnant, pregnancy and beyond. Vigorous sport activities can improve fertility in obese women.

Myth 5: It’s a Man’s World

Women are now occupying or vying for some of the most important positions across the world – President of South Korea and Taiwan, Prime Minister of the UK, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Namibia, Chair of the US Federal Reserve, State Bank of India, and Head of the IMF to name a few. As technology disrupts and levels the playing field, leaders need to be emotionally intelligent, team players, able to handle competing demands and intuitive – traits more traditionally associated with women.

Myth 6: She Asked for It

“If a woman is raped, she probably asked for it in some way.” The fact is that only the perpetrator is responsible for the decision to violate someone.  This myth restricts women’s behaviour and places blame on survivors rather than perpetrators. Women are often expected to dress or behave in certain ways and to follow strict but contradictory rules to protect themselves from harm. It reinforces an expectation of male aggressiveness and the perceived responsibility of women to avoid any behaviour that could be seen as provocative. It also help distance non-survivors from survivors. This is a form of oppression. No one “asks” to be raped. There is never an excuse, an invitation, or a justification for sexual violence.

Myth 7: Women Can’t Be Trusted with Money

The myth that women are inherently “frivolous” is used to oppress women for centuries. Criticizing a woman’s reputation through her spending, particularly on clothing and jewellery (while also criticizing her if she doesn’t have a suitable appearance) is sexist. We firmly believe that, first, all women need financial education and, second, that once armed with that education, all women are capable of making good, sound financial decisions that will improve their own financial well-being, that of their families and communities.

Myth 8: A Woman’s Health is not a Man’s Concern

Menstruation and pregnancy are natural phases in women’s lives. In many parts of Africa, women are isolated in mud sheds during menstruation or after child birth. This cruel and deadly custom is based on the belief that menstruating women and girls are unclean and could spread the impurity to others. This custom harms not just the women but the man, children and community around them. When a woman dies from health negligence, her whole family often breaks apart. Her children are less likely to go to school, get immunized against diseases and eat well.

Myth 9: Women Belong to Marriage, Not School

Child marriage is still prevalent in many parts of Africa. Child marriage disproportionately impacts girls, depriving them of their education, health and safety. In communities that do not see girls and women as potential wage earners, they may be considered as financial burdens. The fact is that investing in Girls’ education can have a tremendous impact in reducing poverty for families, communities and countries. Girls have as much right to education as boys.

Myth 10: A Woman’s Place is in the Home

Certainly not! We believe that a woman’s place is wherever she feels that she is most comfortable, where she can do the most good, and where she can be most productive in the ways that she chooses. Women are not possessions, no matter how many savage religions claim they are. Women are human beings of equal intellectual and societal worth to men. A woman’s place is a personal, individual choice. It is not up to the collective to rule where woman should be. It is her place and her place alone to use individual liberties, to which all humans are entitled, to find her personal place in life.