Females Sporting Careers A Struggle Due To Stereotypes: Minister

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By James Muonwa, Mashonaland West Correspondent

THE Mashonaland West provincial minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka has lamented the uphill journeys female athletes have to endure in pursuit of successful and financially-rewarding careers in sports.

She said various sporting codes are male domains in which female athletes have struggled to be taken seriously due to entrenched misconceptions and stereotypes that prevail to the effect that the fairer sex is weak while their role was more appreciated in households.

“Women are perceived as frail and delicate beings not fit to participate in activities that involve any kind of physicality. Traditional female roles require that women be limited to their homes and kitchens and their interests be confined to looking sexy and getting married,” said Mliswa-Chikoka in Chinhoyi Wednesday during belated Women’s Day celebrations.

The celebrations were themed to highlight women and girls’ participation in sport and recreation.

The United Nations yearly commemorates International Women’s Day on 8 March. This year’s global theme is: “Women in Leadership: Achieving An Equal Future ln A Covid-19 World.”

The minister added; “For that reason, it is difficult for women and girls to overcome family and social pressure towards pursuing their passion. The biggest impediment for women and girls wanting to pursue a sporting career is that they are expected to be feminine.”

Athletic women, said the minister, are considered masculine and, therefore, sports are not considered an ideal career choice for them.

“Women must be seen now holding jobs, owning property and participating in professional sporting activities. There is now room for women in that arena.

“People like Honourable Kirsty Coventry, Maria Mutola of Mozambique, Caster Semenya of South Africa and many more have been helping to tear down those stereotypes and brought female athletes into mainstream acceptance,” said Mliswa-Chikoka.

The government, she said, was committed to promoting sport and recreation for the well-being of the female folk.

“We expect more women to break the chains that bond them to the home and dominate in various economic arenas including sports and recreation.”

The event, organised by the Ministry of Sport, saw Mliswa-Chikoka take part in a walkathon and an aerobics session alongside women in leadership positions from across government departments and the private sector.