Over the years women empowerment has become a growing movement that has stirred a lot of global debate. Women in different fields of work have been known to be less privileged than men on the basis of pay, nature of work and even treatment in the workplace. Women’s rights organisations have been trying to create awareness on the need for females to have equal opportunities as men in order to survive and look after their families. Gender equality is a growing concern as according to statistics from the World Bank barely 57% of women, ages 15 to 64, participate in the labor market, compared to the 82% for men. Furthermore, when they do, on average they earn 21% according to International labor Organisation.
It is based on this that an initiative in Zambia was launched to help support female enterprises. The initiative brought together several business women from singers, designers, bakers, models among others to create awareness on the need for women to empower women.
The launch of the “pink print swim” was taken in the form of an outdoor pool event to promote women to keep fit and participate in sports activities such as Aqua Aerobics and swimming. However there are a few challenges when it comes to promoting women to engage in sporting activities. Firstly there are not many sporting amenities catered specifically for women in Zambia. Usually, those that exist are very expensive or are mostly male dominated. Thus women often feel uncomfortable to be in such an environment.
Also on a commercial level women in sports have faced challenges that are well documented. According to the historical records, the first women’s participation in high-level sports came during the Olympic Games in Paris, France, in 1900. However, only in certain sports disciplines: grass tennis and golf. At the time people everywhere had much more respect for men as athletes, versus women. From the beginning of the Olympic Games, the role of women in sport was neglected.
In women’s sports we talk a lot about equal pay. The focus of the conversation is usually on how women make less than men, the unfairness of the disparity despite the equal amount of work they put in, and how female athletes often have to work full-time jobs on top of being full-time athletes.
Sometimes, women are denied opportunities for advancement because of stereotypes about them that cause society to think that women are not capable. Of course, women and men are significantly different, but those differences do not necessarily render women less capable than men. For instance Women’s football in Zambia can be considered a second class sport, perceived as an imitation or substandard version of real (men’s) football. This is reflected in the kind of attention (or lack of) it gets, ranging from low media coverage to limited resource allocation.
The Women’s football league is unsponsored and teams meet their own costs for kit, transport, referees fees and registration fees. Costs are usually borne by coaches with some contributions from players, while men’s football has a league sponsored by the corporate sector in partnership with The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ). While the men’s league ends in an awards dinner gala with monetary prizes, the women’s league ends with nothing. The gender equality debate was reignited recently when former South African tennis professional Raymond Moore made a number of comments in 2017 that were degrading to women in the sport. This was met with backlash from both female and male players including World Number 1 Serena Williams who was vocal in expressing her views on the subject.
Given this unfavorable environment, women are not motivated to engage in sporting activities with several benefits for their health and wellbeing. Pink Print Swim a non for profit initiative was thereby launched to support women in sport and like-minded female enterprises in general. Collectively, men and women, need to do more about gender equality. We need to pave the way for our daughters, just as we do our sons. There should be no disparity in sports, nor in the workplace, nor in life. Women and men should be seen as, and treated as, equals in all respects. Gender should not be the thing that defines us or separates us from our fellow athletes.
For more information contact Kangwa Muyunda on firstname.lastname@example.org