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|Commission for Gender Equality SAFA hearing – Press release 28 June 2012|
Today the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) convened a hearing with the South African Football Association (SAFA), to address matters relating to the promotion of women’s football, and gender transformation within SAFA itself. This hearing arose from the CGE’s investigation initiated by a complaint received from the South African Women’s Football Association (SAWFA). This complaint raised concerns around recognition of SAWFA’s membership by SAFA, and inadequate support for women’s football. Flowing from the hearing, the CGE called upon SAFA to provide leadership on gender transformation and mainstreaming of gender in its institutions and programmes.
It became apparent that gender transformation in football and support for women’s football is marred by several challenges. As a starting point, it is recognized that the domain of football is a male-dominated sector, marked by stereotypes, attitudes and perceptions towards women’s football. It emerged that this is aggravated by the failure to implement basic measures to ensure gender equality is attained, such as the development and implementation of a gender policy, setting quotas, targets, strategies and responsibilities for gender transformation in football. There is a lack of parity in SAFA leadership structures, with women comprising two of the 40 National Executive Committee members. There appears to be no responsibility assigned at a leadership level for the promotion of women’s football and driving a transformation process within SAFA generally. SAFA had not recognized until recently that it is a designated employer in terms of the Employment Equity Act, and has not submitted an employment equity plan and reports to the Department of Labour.
It became apparent that there is huge disparity in funding for women’s football, both within SAFA’s own budget, and the sourcing of sponsorship for women’s football. As a result, there is no professional national women’s football league, despite recommendations from the 1997 Soccer Indaba that this should be implemented by 2004. There is disparity between salaries accorded to and money spent on promoting our national men and women’s soccer teams. Sexual harassment policies and mechanisms have not been adequately implemented, with only one reported case referred to in the past five year period.
In his presentation, SAFA President, Mr Kirsten Nematandani, spoke to numerous measures put in place to build women’s football, including talent searches, coaching and referee programmes, and the creation of local and regional teams. He acknowledged that measures and outcomes have not resulted in parity, and that more should be done, but alleged that the lack of sponsorship and funds has prejudiced this process. He also cited poor media coverage for the poor profiling – and therefore sponsorship – of women’s football.
Hearing deliberations revealed contestation regarding SAWFA’s membership, with SAFA alleging that this had been dissolved by mutual agreement upon the creation of the Women’s Football Committee. Upon hearing impassioned pleas from SAWFA members present, the CGE observed that it is apparent that the structure exists, that it is raising issues of concern and disparity, and that SAFA should seek to establish a working relationship with this entity.
In conclusion, the CGE urged SAFA to develop an appropriate strategic direction and set of targets, and put measures in place to attain equality. As part of this process, SAFA was requested to budget for women’s football adequately, so that it is promoted and visible, and address the funding of a professional women’s football league. SAFA was particularly requested to convene a meeting with SAWFA within the next three months.
The CGE outlined that it would compile a report on gender transformation in football within the next two months, and table this before Parliament, with both the Women’s and Sport Portfolio Committees. The CGE envisaged convening a high-level roundtable with the Sports Minister, SAFA, Parliament and other stakeholders to address gender transformation in sport, noting that today’s deliberation and its forthcoming recommendations should inform gender transformation in sport generally.
Issued by: Commission for Gender Equality
Enquiries: Javu Baloyi
Contact No: 083 579 3306
Date: 28 June 2012
The Commission for Gender Equality is established in terms of Section 187 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in order to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality