How far do we go to empower and support each other as women? Do we merely do it through our words or do we let our actions speak louder in our quest to support each other?
These were the pertinent questions posed by Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya to the more than 100 women from different industries who filled the Emperors Palace Convention Centre in Kempton Park at the launch of the Standard Bank Top Women Conference 2019 on Wednesday morning.
During the candid dialogue, the star athlete said during her career of almost a decade, she had never really felt supported by her fellow female athletes.
“I genuinely feel like support should be like daily bread – something we show and do every day,” she said.
The double Olympic gold medal winner and feminist icon led South Africa’s debate on gender equality and human rights as the headline speaker at the event.
Semenya explained that her support and empowerment of fellow female athletes and women in general stemmed from love.
“At the end of the day I can say I support women but it ends there. Just words. We can post it all we want on social media but if we don’t do or act I don’t feel like that is us supporting each other. We should show that love and actually do instead of just saying,” Semenya said.
“The reason I am saying this is because I know from my own experiences.”
Asked about support from South African authorities during her legal battle with the IAAF regarding her rights to compete, Semenya again emphasised the need to do as a way of showing support.
She said: “I do not focus on authorities. I focus mostly on my legal team who have been there. Conferences and posts on Twitter by those you ask about mean nothing without action.”
Semenya said she felt women in sport and women’s sports were not sufficiently supported and were treated unfairly.
“If you don’t want women in sport then just don’t have them, instead of picking on them especially when all you do for men in sport is praise them. As women we must support each other,” Semenya said.
However, Semenya who was named as one of TIME magazine’s most influential people of 2019 said she was happy to be part of the Standard Bank Top Women Conference this year.
“I am very thrilled to be part of standing up for the cause against gender inequality which remains a major problem on local, national and global levels.”