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GLAMOUR Women in Charge: Meet Sibabalwe Sesmani

Founder and Managing Director of Unorthodox PR and CEO of Unorthodox Group, Sibababalwe Sesmani contributes to social impact through creative storytelling. The award-winning trailblazer is also championing the era of women in sports.

2023 was a big year for sports in SA, and Siba says this shows that the country is a true sporting nation. “It also proved how much of an important role sports plays in SA and the need for this sector to grow and be more inclusive to women.”

Glamour: What does the rise of women in sports speak to?

Sibabalwe Sesmani: The world of sport is highly male dominated and women currently participating in this industry are not adequately paid. Women also tend to not know about the opportunities that exist and more awareness, education and opportunities need to be presented. More women are being vocal and are curious about this sector and this inclusiveness means that we grow our sporting industry which overall benefits everyone.

Glamour: Please shed some light on the opportunities available to women in sports?

SM: When we think of sport we often think of the players on the field. There is an immense amount of effort and stakeholders involved in ensuring that the players not only get on the field, but perform at their peak. For us as unorthodox Sport, we make sure that the athletes are taken care of from a reputation perspective, a brand commercialisation perspective and also taking care of their needs from a retirement perspective.

Glamour: Collectively, how can we ensure that women have more visibility?

SM: There are a number of stakeholders that need to come to the party. Government needs to support the inclusion of women in sport, media needs to ensure that there is adequate airtime for women’s games, private sector needs to support female teams and athletes as much as they do the male counterparts and the public needs to deliberately and intentionally support women’s games.

Glamour: Let's unpack your role with regard to brand and sports management?

SM: When professional athletes are at their peak their reach to a wider audience is usually quite high. Out job at Unorthodox Sport is to maximise their commercial opportunities by aligning them to the right brands and maximising their earning potential outside of their salary.

Glamour: What is needed for women to close the gap in the sports management industry?

SM: Women have done everything that needs to be done and the ball is currently in the stakeholder’s court. Women already in the sports industry are capable and efficient, the right kind of support and interventions are now needed.

Glamour: Who would you like to invite to the table and what's the tone of the conversation around women's sports?

SM: Government - from a developmental perspective

Private sector - from an investment perspective

Media - from an exposure perspective

Glamour: What does the pay gap between men's sports vs women's sports speak to?

SM: Currently we see South African women’s teams performing well on a global scale and in some sporting codes even better than male teams, but still receiving a fraction of male salaries. A lot of work still needs to be done to address this inequality as women athletes have proved time and time again that they are capable and have acted as stellar ambassadors of the country.

Glamour: What's the future of women sports in SA?

SM: More and more we are seeing an increase in wanting to improve the conditions in women in sports. There is also a growing curiosity with women wanting to know how the value chain of women in sport works and wanting to get involved. In the next coming years we forsee better representation when it comes to gender and increased pressure on equal pay.

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