2010 World Cup: how can women win?

Along with a flood of tourists, with billions of people in more than 200 countries around the world tuning into media coverage, it is an opportunity to highlight all of Southern Africa.

With such an opportunity to kick-start economic growth, one question is how to maximise the benefits for all countries in the region, and those people who most need economic empowerment, such as women entrepreneurs?

Senator Muchengeti Clarissa, emphasises that there is a need for planning. “I am sure the region will benefit a lot come 2010. Zimbabwe in particular has many wonderful tourist sites and definitely some of the visitors would want to have a peek at them. However there has to be a concrete plan so as to maximise the chances of coming out winners at the end of it all.”

She adds that women are the backbone of many regional economies and could jump in to organise themselves into groups to market and sell artifacts, clothing and a wide variety of items that could be taken back by the visitors as souvenirs.

Senator Tracy Mutinhiri says she hopes Zimbabwe will be part of the event’s showcase, a move that would promote local tourism by generating excitement, thereby jolting the country into the limelight. She too proposes that this is an opportunity for women’s economic empowerment.

“Women could start up business partnerships such as travel agencies. They could have a lot of business bringing people into the country,” she says.

“There is going to be many visitors spilling over into Zimbabwe and other various countries in the region. Some would be used as acclimatisation zones by the participating teams just like what our teams do before taking on tournaments in other regions and that is important for local tourism,” says Joyce Kazembe, Bureau Chief for the Southern Africa Political Economy Series (SAPES) Trust.

Kazembe says that the chance of hosting the football festival should be seen as an opportunity that must be planned for. “Indeed, it is victory for the region, there is a lot of chances for each and every country to enjoy trickle-down benefits, but that is only so when we start the initiative now,”

Director General of the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe (NPWM) Morris Mutsambiwa says that there is much co-operative work being done between countries in the region to develop big and collective wildlife parks to reap more tourism income in the wake of the expected football frenzy. There are discussions underway to establish the Kaza Kavango Tranfronier Park (KKTP), a five-nation mega park that would include Botswana, Zambia, Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, as well as plans to upgrade and improve other parks.

“Football history has however shown that fans follow their favourite teams everywhere and the majority of them would want to maximise their chances of seeing the whole sub region, he added, “Internationally, tourism packages have been viewed not per each country but per region.”

The region, he says would take advantage of the international focus to market their tourism treasures.

Tourism has historically been an important part of the Zimbabwean economy. The country’s bad publicity in the international media has contributed to dwindling arrivals from traditional European markets though aggressive marketing campaigns targeting Eastern countries such as China have resulted in an increase of visitors from that region.

2010 World Cup is seen as a chance to turn things around. Others argue that some basic matters need to be taken care of first.

“Definitely Zimbabwe will benefit from South Africa hosting the soccer World Cup but what is left is to improve its battered image and prove to the world that it has something to offer,” says Eric Bloch, one of the leading Zimbabwean economists and columnist with the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent newspaper.

“However, regional countries would not benefit much from transfrontier parks as evidenced from other parts of Africa but there has to be an improvement in the safety of roads, air transport and so many things. Countries have to prove themselves good enough for tourists to see far more in their parks,” he says.

As all of this planning goes forward, how women in the region are able to participate in and take advantage of all of these opportunities will have important impacts for years to come. With economic empowerment comes greater decision-making powers and greater gender equity.

Preparing for the 2010 World Cup is about so much more than just the football game.

l Josiah Mucharowana writes from Zimbabwe. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service.

July 2006
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