Public appeal to the National Lotteries Commission to help diversify the face of Mountaineering Sport!

Our organisation has been actively fundraising to assist black women who wish to embark on high-altitude expeditions since 2012. Despite training and improving the pool of women who could be considered for such expeditions, over 100 organisations have turned us down despite their support of extreme sport. Consequently, we have requested assistance from relevant government entities. We are pleased to have gained the support of the Mountain Club of South Africa as well as a letter of support from the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture for our application of funding to the National Lotteries Commission.

The National Lotteries Commission has positively impacted Sport in South Africa, having allocated over R6 billion towards the sport and recreation category since their inception in 2002. Despite this, mountaineers in the grassroots are systemically excluded from their funding pool as we operate in the recreation space. Funding guidelines that are published often exclude sport clubs from applying for large grants and international participation despite objectives presented. This limits participation in high altitude mountaineering sport to affordability, and the average black woman in South Africa cannot participate without external funding. Our specific sporting code remains one of the greatest displays of inequality in South Africa.

We invite members of the Distributing Agency for Sport and Recreation to consider the following statistics which can be independently verified:

  1. From the 36 South Africans that have scaled Mount Everest, only 3 are black (2 males and 1 female).
  2. From the 55 South Africans that have scaled Mount Denali, only 2 are black (1 male and 1 female).
  3. From the 5 South Africans that have completed the explorer’s grand slam, only 1 is black and male.
  4. Apart from Mount Everest, statistics on other Himalayan mountains do not show any representation of black women.

Achievements that are sought to be reached by mountaineering compare very favourably with the greatest sporting achievements reached by other South African sportsmen and women and with due respect, overshadow most other sports by the extreme levels of commitment that it demands in terms of discipline, fitness, endurance, mental strength required.

A lot of education on mountaineering as a sport is necessary in South Africa, especially since historically it has been an elite sport and now that it has opened to all races, the education will help obtain a level at which it will also be affordable and accessible to groups previously disadvantaged during apartheid.

We are grateful to equitysport and McGill’s Mountains for partnering with us on this initiative.