Where have all the young women gone?

“Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing?
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone for husbands everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?”

That was the question asked by Peter, Mary and Paul in 1962.  In 2018 we can ask the question of Athletics South Africa: Where have all the young women gone?

Despite the constitutional imperative to right the wrongs of the past and not discriminate on the grounds of gender, it is something not taken seriously in South African Athletics.

The 2018 SA Commonwealth Games team was announced recently and out of 13 athletes selected, only 3 are women. That just 23% of the team. This was followed shortly by the announcement of the South African team to the African Cross Country Championships. Of the senior athletes, 8 were selected and only 2 are women. That’s 25% of the team.

As usual, a full junior women’s team was selected, and the argument will probably be made that it is ‘planning for the future’. But were have all the young girls from 2017, 2016, 2015, etc gone? Not to the senior ranks, that is for sure. What is to say 2018 will be any different?

This pattern plays out across the country at provincial level too. There are very few senior women athletes left and those that are there face insurmountable obstacles.

Unfortunately, Athletics South Africa seems to put its quest for glory ahead of addressing this issue. The requirement to put in place programmes to promote gender equity is simply ignored. The attitude seems to be that South Africa women are inferior and should be overlooked. There can be no other explanation for selecting only two women (and thereby not even making up a full team).

That is unfair to women who are trying their best without any official support and often artificial obstacles placed in their way by misogynist administrators.

Given this attitude, don’t be surprised when the powers that be stop selecting women at all. It would probably leave more space for administrators to go on holiday with the teams.

Oh, when will they ever learn?