WESTERN CAPE MINISTER OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS AND SPORT, ANROUX MARAIS
PROVINCIAL SPORT AWARDS KEYNOTE ADDRESS
14 SEPTEMBER 2019
Good evening, goeienaand, molweni nonke
Each year during the month of August, the nation focuses on particular areas that are of concern to women and the girl child. It is no secret that Women’s Month 2019 was no celebration and the detrimental implications of gender based violence and femicide were foregrounded as thousands publicly protested against the patriarchal ideology still oppressing women and the girl child in the constitutional democracy that is South Africa.
Contrary to the popular belief, gender discrimination and abuse, particularly in sport, is not a women’s issue to be engaged on by women only, but it is a global problem, and closer to home, a South African dilemma which requires us all, particularly men to do better because, sadly, men are more likely to listen to men.
It is pivotal to urgently unite in challenging, dismantling and transforming the systematic, institutional and ideological patriarchy that still oppress women and the girl child as it literally is a matter of life or death. A paradigm shift and call to action is much needed. What we are experiencing now is the symptoms of a long erupting crisis, however, the cause, is the root problem which urgently requires a whole of society approach to holistically tackle the patriarchal structures perpetuating systematic gender discrimination and inequalities which is still institutionally accepted, maintained and mainstreamed long after emancipation and 25 years into our legitimate democracy.
The reality is women live in a constant state of fear, in an unsafe warzone, killed, raped, assaulted, insulted, avoided and stigmatized day in and day out. It is no wonder we feel, think and now finally ask out loud, AM I NEXT? It is now a blessing to make it home in one piece after surviving the various traumatic experiences lived through as a woman imposed upon us and particularly so, by men. A truth of the matter is, we live in a society where doing what is morally right is for weaklings because if you live in a world of scoundrels and delinquency, you take pride in wrongdoing, misconduct and antisocial behaviour as it is all you know.
However, I refuse to be defeated by this status quo because I have witnessed first-hand, time and again, how through sport and recreation, lives are completely turned around from at risk to filled with potential as behavourial change is the foundation. Yet and still, this alternate is second to a life of crime, devastating choices made as a result of hegemonic conditioning in not questioning the way things are such as the existing rape culture, palpable patriarchy, overt sexism and female abuse by the minute.
Most striking about the responses to the protest against gender based violence and femicide is the oblivious “What can we do? What can I do?”. In reply, I would suggest you acquaint yourself with a local sport organisation, as many of our nominees here tonight have done. Participation in sport and recreation creates the enabling environment needed to promote behavourial change programmes, radically shifting mind-sets from fatal destruction to hope inspired self-empowerment, community upliftment through understanding our contextual framework and offering alternative lifestyles in safe spaces, capacitating those we serve in our most vulnerable communities.
Studies have shown, and I firmly believe that sport provides holistic development activities, information that addresses community issues and creates a sense of self-worth to help become positive agents of change. It also creates a sustainable network of mentors to be better equipped to confront traumatic lived experiences, in understanding its destructive nature and affords behavourial change mechanisms to the benefit of healthy communities.
Many of us here this evening share the purposive vision to disrupt the status quo through sport and recreation while creating economic opportunities to render at risk beings an asset to the upliftment, empowerment and reconciliation of our vulnerable communities to augment its sense of safety, belonging and pride. It is our local clubs, federations and administrators who serve as dispatches from the frontline and for this I thank you.
The nature of our business plays an impactful role in shaping, framing, communicating and influencing the future. In fact, according to the South African Cultural Observatory, “It is our responsibility to reflect, question, resist, review and rebuild when and where necessary”. Our department has made great strides in implementing a reimagined future in trying times, but we will fail in our objectives without our hardworking officials, passionate partners, resilient non-governmental and non-profit organisations and of course our sporting excellence as celebrated this evening.
Concerted, efforts need to be made to equip the present and future generations with the ability to empathise, imagine, and create, and the key to develop these abilities is a life-long education that is interdisciplinary, cross-functional, cross-industry and cross-cultural. It is therefore pivotal to actively integrate sport into the education system and societal discourse as it will indeed reduce the skills gap that the next generation is facing, and subsequently prepare the leaders of tomorrow.
Today more than ever, sport and recreation is essential to build a contextual framework needed to make sense of the dialogues at the core of gender based violence and femicide. Sport and recreation and joining the good gangs as HOD Brent Walters always reminds, builds trust, the trust needed to bridge conflicting views and interests, to overcome current barriers and obstacles with dynamic and innovative approaches, and to understand the values that are embedded in any process of societal progress.
Together, we are in the business of rebuilding a broken nation, inspiring hope and motivating better versions of those we serve while creating an enabling environment in which it can flourish. We pledge our support to the protest against gender-based violence and femicide. We are in mourning for all women who did not get the chance to achieve all they dreamed of. We will never forget because as Chimamanda Adichie reminds, “Feminism is the radical idea that women’s safety is more important than men’s feelings”. While great strides have been made to empower women, a serious cause for concern is who is preparing men for these empowered women?
I now take the opportunity to congratulate each nominee with great gratitude for the influential role they have and will continue to play in representing our beloved province and communities with much pride. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step and we have a long way to go, but together we can redress the challenges our communities are plagued with through sport. An individual’s circumstances can indeed be improved through participation, developing and excelling in their preferred sporting codes and it is not only the individual’s circumstances changed, but that of their families, their communities, provinces and country as a whole.
I thank you
The full list of winners and information on all the nominees are available online.