Campaign makes waves over lower winnings paid to women surfers

A photograph that went viral in June‚ exposing the gender pay gap in surfing competitions‚ has led to an online crowdfunding campaign to level the waters.

The 2018 Billabong Junior Series winners, Rio Waida and Zoe Steyn pose with cheques of their prize money on June 24 2018 at Willard Beach Ballito, South Africa.
Image: Facebook/The Ballito Pro

WomenLoveSport co-founders Jess Basson and Shani van Straaten launched the campaign after there was outrage on social media over the marked difference in winnings between men and women surfers in South Africa.

Indonesia’s Rio Waida‚ who won the under-18 men’s category at the Billabong Junior Series Ballito Pro‚ walked away with R8‚000 in prize money while South Africa’s Zoe Steyn‚ who won the under-18 women’s category‚ got R4‚000 at the competition held on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

The online crowdfunding campaign had raised R5‚945 by Friday afternoon and is aiming for R70‚000

Van Straaten said: “When I saw the photo of the Ballito Pro Junior winners I was not surprised as I had been aware of this phenomenon for years. There are reasons for everything‚ however I don’t think that poor reasoning should be a barrier to justice and progression in any industry.

“What interested me more was whether those objecting to this photo and what it represented would be willing to engage in further discussion and action.”

Billabong Junior Series Ballito Pro organisers last month claimed the World Surf League determines the prize money for men and women winners.

Festival organiser Collette Bundy said the organisation maintained its stance that it was a “pro-gender equality competition”.

“The World Surf League (WSL) is the sanctioning body for WSL-aligned surfing events such as The Ballito Pro. The WSL implements certain criteria to determine surf ratings and prize money‚ and we have formally requested a detailed outline of this process for future discussion.”

Chad d’Arcy‚ event licence holder of the Billabong Junior Series‚ added: “In order for any professional surf event to be internationally accredited‚ it has to be sanctioned by the WSL. The WSL also determines the allocation of prize money and points for each event.”

Basson said the money raised will be used to make a donation to women winners at the Ballito Pro 2018‚ start a fund to supplement women’s winnings in local surfing competitions and make a donation to SurfingSA.

“Equality for women is a global movement‚ and no industry is going to be able to ignore it. I’m excited to see a significant positive change for women in sport.”

BY NICO GOUS – TimesLIVE

Source: TMG Digital

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