The first world Conference on Women and Sport was held in Brighton, UK in 1994. It led to the Brighton Declaration and the establishment of the International Working Group on Women and Sport. In 1995, sport was included in the Beijing Platform for Action (paragraphs 83, 107, 290) and subsequently in the Beijing outcome document five years later. The second World Conference on Women and Sport took place in Windhoek, Namibia in 1998. The Windhoek calls for Action goes beyond pushing for women’s participation in sport to promoting sport as a means of realising broader goals in health, education and women’s human rights – an idea further promoted at the Third World Conference on Women and Sport in Montreal, Canada in 2002. This involves integrating women in sport within community development projects, information campaigns around health and other issues, and national advocacy campaign for gender equality and women’s rights.

In November 2003, United Nation Resolution 58/5 was adopted which called on governments to use sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace. Hence, 2005 was the International Year for Sport and Physical Education.

In Swaziland, the Ministry of Sport, Culture and Youth Affairs was established in 2008. The main department in the Swaziland National Sport and Recreation Council (SNSRC) is the development department. The main aim of the department is to develop the Nation through sport and recreation. Furthermore, the aim of the SNSRC is to market sport to all members of the communities found in the 55 Tinkhundla centers. The objectives of the Women in Sport program are outlined below;

  • Human development; improving public progress in areas including but not limited to financial, physical, emotional and social aspects.
  • Health and wellbeing, supporting education and leisure activities.
  • Social development; promoting stability, tolerance, social inclusion and community building.
  • Economic development; fostering investment and development opportunities.
  • Political development; promoting peace and respect for the rules of democracy.


Issues / Thematic Areas

Culture, family and socialization

Sport is a social and cultural process in which social construction of masculinity and feminity play a key role. Sport is traditionally associated with masculinity. In many societies, it is considered inappropriate for women to engage in sport, and women who do may be perceived as “masculine”. Conversely, men who do not engage in sport or who are not talented in sport may be labelled as unmanly. Yet it is evident that there is no one masculinity or feminity, and sport could provide a space where masculinity and feminity are re-negotiated rather than re-affirmed in their dominant acceptation.

Multiple roles

  • Women and girls are deprived of sport opportunities due to their multiple roles.
  • Women engage in a long fiscal (monetary / economic) occupational physical activities as it is they get exhausted.
  • …. Cause stress, anxiety, and feeling of depression, develop hypertension.
  • Women are challenged by balancing their multiple roles in order to accommodate sporting activities.
  • Before you play sport, you shall be sexually ready and they perform well


Poverty (abject, mild poverty)

Sport for women is not recognized as employment creation for women but as leisure

  • Sport and recreation in society is treated as leisure, and not promoted to serve as employment creation.
  • There is a lack of legal instrument that promotes involvement of companies in sports, for example, tax rebates


Culture and social issues

  • Culture dictates that women belong to the kitchen not in the sport field.
  • Wearing of appropriate sport gear is not acceptable for women.
  • Women in rural communities are not allowed to wear appropriate sport gear.
  • Women are always looking down upon themselves.
  • Social norms, values and beliefs, they become a barrier to women sport, for example, sport gear.
  • Cultural activities (dances) are not considered as sport.


Multiple roles

  • Women and girls are deprived of sport opportunities due to their multiple roles.
  • Women may be exposed to things that cause stress, anxiety, and feeling of depression, and may also develop hypertension
  • Women are challenged by balancing their multiple roles in order to accommodate sporting activities.


The practice of sport is related to a number of assumptions about “work” and “leisure”, which are often lived differently by men and women. Caring for the sick and elderly, raising children, and other work in the home – “reproductive” activities still predominantly carried out by women and girls – are generally not socially and economically recognized as “work” “productive” activities exercised outside the home and recognized as work – and in particular when they are performed by men – bring with them the right to have time off “work” for leisure.

Some societies value sport as “productive “in that it contributes to the physical health of the work force, especially that engaged in manual labour. Despite the fact that, at least in some markets, an increasing number of women compose the workforce, sport may be valued when practices by men and seen as a waste of time when practiced by women.

Women and men tend to engage in different types of physical activities and their attitudes towards sport may be very different. The competitive dimension of many sport may be at the heart of the game, while for other, sport may simply be an opportunity to get together. Being identified and identifying oneself as belonging to a particular “culture” “ethnic” group, socio- economic class or caste also plays a role in how one engages in sport.

Unequal access, control and benefit over resources.

Unequal access, control and benefit over resources.

Women, and eventually men too, may face a number of practical barriers to participation in sport.

In addition to a general lack of safe and appropriate sport facilities, lack of skills, resources, and technical support, women may face additional physical constraints including lack of time, lack of childcare facilities.

Gender based violence/ sexual harassment

Women may be particularly exposed to physical and / or verbal sexual harassment as well as other dangers related to participation and time of day, for instance.

Women in decision making

Women are also under-represented in the decision making bodies of sporting institutions. Increased participation by women would diversify the talent pool of administrators, coaches and officials. Sport-related development projects would become more effective in reaching all groups within target populations and communities.

There is a lack of female role models including women coaches or “leaders”. Women are under represented in decision-making bodies of sporting institutions.

Why gender equality in sport?

Gender equality is a fundamental goal of development and belongs to the basic and universally recognized civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The aim of the SDC Gender Equality Policy is to ensure that all SDC interventions increase women and men’s opportunities to exercise their rights equally and gain equal access to and control over the benefits of development.

Unequal opportunities

Worldwide, women are less frequently seen participating in sports activities than men. Sport can promote mental and physical well – being, and studies have shown that it reduces the risk of chronic diseases later in life. Thus sport for girls as well as for boys should be encouraged.

Why sport for gender equality?

Human Rights / Minority status

As well as working towards gender equality in terms of participation in sports activities and institutions, there are also ways in which sport can help promote broader gender equality objectives (e.g. rights and empowerment). Sport can give women and girls access to public spaces where they can gather, develop new skills together, gain support from others and enjoy freedom of expression and movement. It can promote education, communication, negotiation skills and leadership, all of which are essential for women’s empowerment.

Women are given minority status, that is tom say they come second. When organizing sport, the girl sports are not prioritized. The facilities are preferable for boys and men in comparison to a girl child.

Sport can develop girls’ and women’s sense of ownership over their bodies, increase their self esteem and better enable them to make choices about their lives, including their sexual activity. In situations of deprivation and inequality, such a sense of ownership over one’s body is all the more important.  Moreover, sport can provide a channel for informing girls and women about reproductive health and other health issues particularly young unmarried women who may not receive such information.