SOURCE: NEW TIMES.
The sports sector has for years been widely dominated by men despite current efforts being put in empowering women to play an equal part in all aspects of the sector.
As a result, there are instances of Rwandan women who are already proving their worth in their respective sports careers like Salima Mukansanga who was selected to officiate the Qatar World Cup and Grace Nyinawumuntu who earlier this week, inspired Rwandan youngsters to winning the just-concluded Paris Saint-Germain Academy World Cup in France.
However, the number of women in sports is still small due to different circumstances that hinder them from excelling in sports.
A recent workshop organized by the National Olympic Committee (RNOSC) for women to discuss challenges that limit their participation in sports highlighted several issues that need to be worked on to increase the number of women in sports.
Dubbed ‘Smart Women – Smart Sport’, the two-day workshop targeted about 40 women who are in sports management in different federations and some who are part of Isonga’s “Sports Centers of Excellence in Schools” programme.
Some issues that already need urgency to address include various forms of harassment, mental health, limited capacity building for women coaches and a very small number of women in the sports sector, especially coaches, among others.
“There are so many challenges that us women face in our daily duties and that affects the development of sports for women. For instance, we still have a big problem of harassment and hence some choose not to report it because they feel they are not protected. The same goes to lack of sports infrastructures and little number of women in the coaching career,” said Yvette Igihozo, a volleyball player.
Igihozo also holds a coaching license but says women are still struggling to reach their prime due to the challenges raised during the workshop as she calls competent players in the sports sector to join hands to tackle and find solutions toward better growth of women in sports.
“We had a chance to share the challenges with responsible authorities in the sports sector and we hope they will take care of them,” she added.
Felicite Rwemalika, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) admits that the challenges presented by women either during the workshop or in further meetings pose a big threat to the development of women sports but rallied fellow women to remain focused and take a leaf from a few who have excelled if they are to succeed in various sports disciplines.
“Women have the potential to hit so many milestones but only if they show commitment to show what they want to achieve. Look at what Salima [Mukansanga] is doing. I’ve been closely following her rise from the scratch and all the milestones she is achieving are coming to her by merit. But if you sit there and think everything will come to you just because you are a woman, that can never happen in sports,” Rwemalika said.
“If they want issues solved, they need to speak out. Whether it’s harassment or something else. We were able to hear from them, their challenges and what they want to be done. We are going to present them to competent authorities to find solutions for them toward creating a better environment for women in sports,” she added.