Caster Semenya: ‘I’ve never felt supported by women’

Caster Semenya running

Speaking at a women’s conference, Caster Semenya said on Wednesday (August 14) that she has never felt supported by other women.

The Top Women conference is focused on “the value and impact of women in leadership,” and Semenya spoke as both a successful athlete and leader of the Caster Semenya Foundation.

She said: “If you want to empower women, it’s first amongst us. I always have the question: ‘What is it that we are doing to empower other women?’ Do we support them just by saying it? Or do we support them physically or emotionally? For me, I think, it starts with love. If we love one another, that will fulfil me.

“Since I’ve been in sports, I’ve never really felt supported, I’ve never really felt recognised, mostly by women.”

The Caster Semenya Foundation supports and financially empowers girls and young women, and has invested money into a menstrual cup company to help girls stay in school while on their periods.

Caster Semenya

(Cameron Spencer/Getty)

Caster Semenya is fighting for her right to compete

Semenya is currently fighting for her right to run competitively after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled that women with a so-called difference of sexual development (DSD) would need to take hormones to lower their testosterone levels in order to compete.

The restrictions were temporarily overturned by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court on June 3, though the IAAF is trying to have them reinstated.

In June, an IAAF official suggested that Semenya and other athletes like her could undergo outdated tests for gender dysphoria.

She said: “If you look at my situation with IAF, these guys were like: ‘We want to control this human being.’ Of course they’ve tried, but then they’ve failed.

“How they’ve failed, they don’t know. And now they want to get rid of you. They cannot get rid of me, I’m still going to remain there.”

She continued: “You need to study yourself. No one should tell you how you should live life or how to do things.

“You should follow your heart and your instincts, because if you can do that it’s very easy to conquer the world… The minute you start thinking about other people and say ‘Caster, maybe if you wear high heels you will look prettier. Caster, if you wear skirts you’ll probably look like that.’

“No, that’s not how I see myself, and those are things that I can control. If you’re going to talk about laws, rules and regulations, I cannot control them because they are established by other human beings. I forget about them and I focus on me.”