04 August 2021 | Opinion

It’s excruciating to contemplate the disqualification of two naturally gifted Namibian women from an Olympics event due to a rule that seems to prescribe and limit what a woman is.

The country’s outrage and heartbreak is understandable. Even in ‘normal’ times, their world-record breaking performances at the current Olympics would have uplifted the heart of every Namibian.

Amid the current situation, Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi’s glittering talent and skill have offered a bright light to a nation engulfed by darkness.

And yet, instead of focusing and celebrating their talent, dedication and hard work, they are being spotlighted in the international media in terms they, and many of us, have never heard of.

‘Intersex’, ‘female classification’, ‘condition’, and non-conforming gender testosterone levels are being flung about in an almost casually cruel way after their beautiful work on the track.

In 2021, we are telling two young women, who have never considered their gender identity, that their natural biochemistry is somehow unnatural and un-female.

Rules are rules, many argue right now. But rules are also sometimes undemocratic and in violation of basic human and gender rights.

As any woman will know, being told what you can and cannot do based on gender is a tale as old as time. World Athletics needs to deal with this anachronistic rule promptly, or explain why it’s so comfortable prescribing to women who women should be.