Poverty prevents women's participation in sports: Iivula-Ithana

03 Feb 2015 08:30am
WINDHOEK, 03 FEB (NAMPA) - Namibia Women In Sports’ Association (NAWISA) president Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana said poverty, heavy domestic demands and a lack of physical education prevents women’s participation in sports.
She made this statement on Saturday during the executive meeting of NAWISA at a local hotel in the capital.
Iivula-Ithana said safety concerns, the lack of accessible transportation and inadequate sport and recreational facilities are also among the factors which frequently prevent women’s participation in sport.
In addition to those challenges are the socio-cultural norms and constraints which prevent girls and women from being physically active.
“Leaving home unaccompanied, or risking being seen by men outside their family are additional barriers preventing girls and women from becoming involved in sport and physical activity,” she continued.
Iivula-Ithana said despite these challenges which hinder women's participation in sports, the benefits from sport are innumerable.
“Physical activity can build life skills and confidence, which can result in dramatic positive life changes for the participants, and we have seen that involvement in sport and physical activity can positively change existing gender norms, and help girls and women to move into public spaces,” she stated.
Sport and physical activity programmes also provide opportunities to bring communities together, and help realise developmental objectives relating to issues such as conflict management, reproductive health and gender-based violence.
“Sport can help increase self-esteem by giving girls and women opportunities to learn new skills, engage in positive relationships, acquire achievements and engage in volunteer service,” said Iivula-Ithana, adding that those programmes can also help to reduce the social isolation and exclusion which many girls and women experience, particularly those who cannot attend school and live in poverty.
She thus urged NAWISA to continue looking into establishing programs to actively promote female participation in sport.
She furthermore stressed that physical education teachers must be trained not to reinforce stereotypes which inhibit girls’ physical and sports development.
The NAWISA president then urged the association to provide programs in a female-friendly space, and to offer programs in areas where girls and women are safe from both physical and emotional dangers.