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Editorials, Sports

Women’s Sports And It’s Importance In Africa

In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in women’s participation in sports across the continent of Africa.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 28th April 2023

Women’s sports refer to sports activities that are primarily played by women and organized in female leagues or competitions. These sports can range from individual activities such as tennis, gymnastics, and figure skating to team sports such as basketball, football, and volleyball.


They have gained more recognition and support in recent years, with more opportunities for women to participate in sports at all levels, from grassroots to professional. This has been due to increased awareness of the benefits of sports for women’s physical and mental health, as well as the success of female athletes in international competitions.


However, women’s sports still face many challenges, including limited media coverage, pay disparities, and lack of investment and support compared to men’s sports. Many advocates are working towards achieving gender equality in sports, so that women have the same opportunities and recognition as their male counterparts.


In Africa, the history of women’s sports is a relatively recent phenomenon, as traditional African cultures have not traditionally placed a strong emphasis on women’s participation in sports. However, in recent decades, there has been a significant increase in women’s participation in sports across the continent.


One of the earliest examples of women’s sports in Africa was the participation of the Nigerian women’s national basketball team in the 1975 African Championship, where they won the bronze medal. This success helped to raise the profile of women’s sports in Nigeria and other African countries.


In the 1980s and 1990s, there were significant advances in women’s sports in Africa, with the establishment of women’s leagues and competitions in various sports such as basketball, volleyball, and athletics. The establishment of the African Women’s Championship in football in 1991 also helped to raise the profile of women’s football in Africa.


More recently, there has been a greater emphasis on gender equality in sports across the continent, with the establishment of policies and initiatives aimed at increasing the participation of women and girls in sports. For example, the African Union has set a target of achieving gender parity in sports by 2025.


Despite these advances, women’s sports in Africa still face many challenges, including limited resources and funding, lack of access to training and coaching, and cultural attitudes that discourage women’s participation in sports. However, there is growing recognition of the importance of women’s sports for promoting gender equality, health, and social development, and there is optimism that women’s sports in Africa will continue to grow and thrive in the coming years.




The advent of women’s sports in Africa provided opportunities for women and girls to engage in physical activity and improve their physical health and fitness. Regular physical activity is essential for preventing chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, which are major health problems in Africa.


Women’s sports provide a platform for promoting gender equality and challenging gender stereotypes. Women who participate in sports can challenge traditional gender roles and demonstrate that women are just as capable as men in physical pursuits. This can help to break down gender barriers and empower women and girls to pursue their goals and dreams.


This has also provided economic opportunities for women, especially in developing countries where women may have limited opportunities for paid employment. For example, women’s football has become a major industry in some African countries, with professional leagues and opportunities for players to earn income through endorsements and sponsorships.


Finally, women’s sports can promote social development and cohesion by bringing together people from different backgrounds and communities. Sports can help to build relationships and promote teamwork, leadership, and communication skills, which are important for personal and professional success.




There are many accomplished and successful women athletes in Africa, representing a wide range of sports. Here are some of the top female athletes from Africa:


  • Caster Semenya (South Africa) – Track and Field: Semenya is a middle-distance runner and Olympic gold medalist who has won multiple world championships in the 800 meters.


  • Blessing Okagbare (Nigeria) – Track and Field: Okagbare is a sprinter and long jumper who has won numerous medals in international competitions, including the Olympics and World Championships.


  • Odunayo Adekuroye (Nigeria) – Wrestling: Adekuroye is a Nigerian freestyle wrestler who has achieved great success in her sport. She has won multiple medals at the African Wrestling Championships and the Commonwealth Games and has also represented Nigeria at the Olympic Games. She is known for her technical skills and aggressive style of wrestling and is considered one of the top female wrestlers in the world.


  • Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria) -Football: Oshoala is a professional footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and the Nigerian national team. She has won multiple African Women’s Footballer of the Year awards.


  • Ruth Gbagbi (Ivory Coast) – Taekwondo: Gbagbi won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the 2016 Olympics, becoming the first athlete from the Ivory Coast to win an Olympic medal.


  • Vivian Cheruiyot (Kenya) – Track and Field: Cheruiyot is a long-distance runner who has won multiple world championships and Olympic medals in events such as the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.


  • Funke Oshonaike (Nigeria) – Table Tennis: Oshonaike is a Nigerian table tennis player who has represented Nigeria in multiple international competitions. Oshonaike has competed in seven Olympic Games, beginning with the 1992 Barcelona Games, where she was the youngest member of the Nigerian team. She has also won multiple medals at the African Table Tennis Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

These are just a few examples of the many talented and accomplished women athletes from Africa. They serve as role models for young women and girls across the continent and inspire others to pursue their dreams in sports.


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