St Vincent and the Grenadines joined with the rest of the world last Monday, March 8, in celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD). As such, IWD was celebrated under the theme: “Women in leadership: Achieving and equal future in a COVID-19 world”.
The theme again fell into the genesis of the annual commemoration, as the push to get women in key leadership roles was evident.
As has been the case over the years, much of the narratives that emerged from Monday’s recognition of women, highlighted the whole idea of gender equality, along with the need to protect women against all forms of abuse.
Here in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the exercise was no different, as we too exhaled the many achievements of our women and lauded the key positions they hold, especially in the public sector.
But at the end of the day, now that the celebrations are tucked away until 2022, what is the case of women in sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines?
The participation of women in our country’s sporting endeavours is far from what it ought to be, as over the years, there has been a marked decrease in girls and women in sporting competitions.
This column, last September, had cause once more to bring to the fore the fall off of female participation in sports. And, much has not changed since, as most sporting disciplines are still grappling with filling the spaces on their rosters.
As was lamented a few months ago, Track and Field, Tennis, Table Tennis and Cricket, are the ones mainly feeling the brunt of lack of female participation. Unfortunately, too, netball, which by tradition is a female dominated sport, is also feeling the pinch of a lack of participation, as fewer young females are emerging.
However, Football stands as a beacon, as with its ready-done financing from FIFA, programmes aimed at sustaining participation becomes a simple task.
Just behind Football, local Swimming is holding its head high above water and is sporting many females on the rosters of the swim clubs and this trend is taken a step further with the prevalence of female participation in the various championships.
Critically though, are we satisfied that women are making a sufficient contribution to the development of sports in this country?
So, as we aspire to that gender equality, how many of our national sports association make that conscious effort to have a percentage of women on its executive?
Not by design, but merely by interest, the composition of the executive of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Squash Association, is skewed in favour of women.
Save and except for the St Vincent and the Grenadines Netball Association (SVGNA), whose executive has always been loaded with females, keeping the status intact.
On the contrary, netball for some inexplicable reason, is notching up some anomalies. Emerging in netball is a pattern of more males advancing themselves as umpires and lead management personnel of teams, both at the community level and on the wider national setup.
Therefore, increasing and most of all maintaining female participation in sports at all levels should be part of the thrust going forward by the all stakeholders in sports here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
It was former president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, who projected a few years ago that the “future of football is feminine”.
That statement has resonated with that football organisation’s operations, with special emphasis being paid towards the actual development of the female side of the sport.
Narrowing down the conversation to the Vincentian context, there has to be a concerted effort of seeking out more participation in sports from girls and women. With the hype of the recent celebration of IWD still evident, it is time to take the process forward, and end the hot and cold approach to such issues.
One is hopeful that the Women in Sports Commission set up by the SVG Olympic Committee a year ago, will get cracking.
That commission, given its mandate, will take the lead, and fulfill its purpose, by promoting the use of sports as a tool for gender equality and empowerment, as well as create that pathway for management and leadership for women in sports.