Soul City Institute congratulates Banyana Banyana

While their victory deserves celebration, let us not forget the gendered injustices womxn footballers have and continue to experience in South Africa

The Soul City Institute congratulates Banyana Banyana on winning the Women's Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) against Morocco on Sunday. Their performance was one for the books and a testament to the brilliance and commitment of the players, coach and the technical staff.

While this is a cause for celebration and a much-needed boost to the country’s morale in the current state of our country, we recognise the battle for gender equity that Banyana Banyana players and womxn football players as a whole have been fighting for years.

The continued disregard of Banyana Banyana, including last week’s reports on the bonus pay of R400 000 each for their AFCON win, or football legend Portia Modise’s harrowing account (in May) of the inequality and patriarchal barriers she and other womxn football players have faced.

Calling out this blatant patriarchy is nothing new. There have been numerous calls for transformation in football and other sporting codes that are male dominated. The continued demands for equal pay, infrastructure, and training development, as well as other resources to enable womxn footballers to excel to their fullest potential is appalling.

Despite these structural barriers, Banyana Banyana continues to make us proud as a nation. And as we celebrate, let us not forget the inequalities the players have faced and continue to experience simply because they are womxn. The issues faced by Banyana Banyana are also a glimpse of the lack of womxn in leadership and influential positions within football structures such as the South African Football Association.

May we also remember the late Banyana Banyana midfielder Eudy Simelane, who was raped, robbed and murdered in 2008. This hate crime was committed against her because of her sexual orientation. As we remember her, let us take stock of the continued violence against the LGBTQI+ community in South Africa, and the public dissections of the gender and performance of gender that womxn football players have been historically subjected to.

Let us not celebrate this victory for what it means for the country and to us individually, without acknowledging and advocating for their substantive equality, with access to resources and opportunities that enable the full realisation of their human rights.

We must also remind ourselves that it is not only an issue of equal pay and resources, but a historical and present issue of the problematic notions about gender and who is deemed worthy. May the next generations of players be provided with better systems to support and nurture their talent, as well as adequate and equal pay.

Our heartfelt congratulations to Banyana Banyana, we are proud of you!


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