16 February 2019

Rwanda: Women Urged to Join More Sports Bodies

The Minister for Sports and Culture, Espérance Nyirasafari, has called for more women to participant, engage and enroll in sports activities but decision making processes and bodies.

Nyirasafari said this during the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop this week which was dubbed; "Forum on Gender Equality in the Rwandan Sports movement" organized by National Olympic and Sports Committee (RNOSC) in collaboration with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

"Let me take this opportunity to thank the organisers of the forum aimed at finding a strategic plan that will involve more women in the sports transformation of this country," she said.

"Gender equality in sports is not a forgotten issue by the government, but we need more integration of women in decision-making bodies, not only in women's sport, administration, but also in the decision making processes though there are challenges which are not just particular to Rwanda".

She added that such forums were necessary in looking for solutions to ongoing challenges that include increasing the number of women athletes in sports and capacity building.

The forum that concluded on Friday evening attracted 64 women participants from different sports bodies, international organisations, private partners, government officials as well as other stake holders.

RNOSC president Amb. Valens Munyabagisha also acknowledged the challenges faced when it comes to gender equality in sports, saying that women are not given the same opportunities, especially in prize money.

"Those who excel are not rewarded as men, not even the medals or equipment and capacity building. Athletes must be rewarded equally, we need established policies and procedures that will apply in the same way," he noted.

In 2016, the International Olympic Committee established that women engagement in sports decision making in its committees was still low, a reason why a gender Equality Review Project was fully endorsed by the Executive Board in February 2018.

This development led to the election last year of Félicité Rwemalika, the former head of women football in Rwanda, on the IOC committee which includes nine members.

"We have problems understanding women participation in sports especially in the leadership. But I am optimistic that the challenge will be solved. This is the first time we have met with the minister and made known our agenda and now I believe that there will be a solution," Rwemalika said.

"We are not idle because there are limits and as women when we make our action plans available, at times we are told to wait, maybe because the needed resources are not yet ready. But we cannot give up," she added.

The Minister further added that her ministry will be making an assessment of what can be done to improve the different sports disciplines. Gender equality is also important to nurture girls and boys that can equally benefit from sports.

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