Maha Zaoui: ‘We are going to build something special in Africa’
Rugby Africa's new Women's Rugby Manager Maha Zaoui talks to World Rugby about her ambitious plans for female participation on the continent.
Rugby Africa's Women’s Advisory Committee (WAC) has been established to advise all Rugby Africa committees on positive gender inclusion practices, with a particular focus on women’s rugby.
In line with Rugby Africa's strategic plan and broader World Rugby commitments, the role of the commission is to define key performance indicators to demonstrate progress of the development of women in rugby at all levels as well as monitor player welfare and the development and retention of female players.
Duly approved at the RA EXCO meeting held on 27 August, the WAC is chaired by Rugby Africa Executive Committee member Paula Lanco from Kenya.
"Women’s participation is our growing area with the biggest potential, because rugby is a progressive, modern, attractive, dynamic and most of all an inclusive sport played across the continent," she said.
"The promotion and positioning of women in rugby at all levels will result in significantly increased involvement and interest from fans, players and ultimately investors. Therefore, we aim at growing the sport with a focus on development pathways for women and girls, working with key stakeholders from relevant committees. Key research projects will help us identify how to improve gender inclusion strategies within our member unions."
"With the WAC, we have set the institutional basis to scale up our efforts to be gender inclusive and meet our strategic goals for women in rugby where we aim at a minimum representation of 30 per cent of women in leadership roles and where 40 per cent of the registered players on the continent will be women by 2025," added Khaled Babbou, Rugby Africa Chairman.
"We also aim at having four African teams in the World Rugby top 30 ranking, two teams in the women’s Rugby World Cup and in the World Series," added Andrew Owor, Vice Chairman of Rugby Africa.
The WAC, managed by the Tunisian-born Maha Zaoui, Rugby Africa’s Women’s Rugby Manager, has appointed its first member, Rolande Boro, Rugby Africa Executive Committee Member, World Rugby Council member and Chairman of the Burkina Faso Rugby Union.
A call for interest has been initiated through the Africa Women Rugby Network and by the end of this month all six committee members shall be appointed. The first WAC Meeting will be held in October.
The initiative is in line with World Rugby's 2017-25 strategic plan to accelerate the global development of women in rugby, giving them equality on and off the field, and ensuring that their presence is reflected in all strategies, plans and structures - as well as to recognise the crucial value of their contribution and participation in rugby, its leadership and investment in the global game.