IWD 2024: Remembering AFCON 2023, a tournament of many firsts for women in African football


In anticipation of AFCON 2025 here are the four unforgettable times women stole the spotlight at the recently concluded 2023 edition.

The struggle for gender equality in African football was once again rewarded at the recently concluded AFCON 2023 which took place in Ivory Coast as it became an edition of many firsts for women in African football whilst also giving room for improved growth for previous stepping stones set in previous editions.

This remarkable feat for women who are now receiving more recognition in African football is a milestone that should be marked and celebrated in International Women's Month which is why we have compiled a list of 4 amazing women who stood out at AFCON 2023 for us.

First Female Afrobeats artist to perform at AFCON, Yemi Alade

Yemi Alade
Yemi Alade

Yemi Alade, also known as "Mama Africa of the new generation", was one of the most prominent female artists to participate in the AFCON 2023 tournament. She was responsible for singing the theme song of the competition, titled "Akwaba", alongside Magic System and Mohamed Ramadan but joined two other talented female singers Abiba and Rinyu as the only ones to work on a theme song for the competition. Yemi Alade's performance at the opening ceremony of the event was truly remarkable. As she took to the centre of the stadium, her perfect rendition of the theme song left the audience in awe.

Notably, Yemi Alade became the first female Afrobeats artist ever to be part of the theme song for AFCON, as well as the first to perform at the opening ceremony of the competition. Her contribution to the tournament will undoubtedly go down in history as a significant milestone for African female artists.

Describing her experience Yemi Alade stated, “Honestly, it’s an honour to represent my continent and encourage healthy competition in a sport loved globally. It’s a dream come true for me to have created the official anthem for AFCON alongside African music royalties. I believe that the whole world will be watching their favourite countries at the AFCON supporting their national team. “I also believe that this platform will be the springboard for many players’ careers. I wish them the best and honestly can’t wait for female championships around the world to get the accolades they deserve. I believe it will happen very soon so, let’s all be part of history in the making, get involved everyone! Let’s support African football and travel to Ivory Coast to witness the games or just watch on your TV screen. Stay informed!.”

First female commentator at AFCON, Amanda Dlamini 

Amanda Dlamini

Former Bayana Bayana of South Africa star Amanda Dlamini unlocked a new milestone for women in the history of African football as she became the first female commentator at the Africa Cup of Nations.

On Wednesday, January 17th, 2024, Amanda Dlamini achieved the historic milestone as she took charge of commentary alongside Daniel Amokachi and Ndah in the game between Morocco and Tanzania which took place at Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro during Group F's opening rounds of fixtures. This was however not the first time Amanda had worked as an analyst on SuperSport for local and also CAF Inter-Club matches. She also joined the team of CAF Analysts for the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 2022 in Morocco.

Describing the experience Amanda stated, “I knew it was the biggest day of my life to do a Men’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations. When I was told I will be commentating at AFCON, I was very overwhelmed but had to try keep calm. I didn’t want it to get to my head because of how emotional the feeling was. I’m hoping this historic moment opens more doors for many other women to believe in their abilities and talents.”

The first North African woman to officiate a men's football match, Bouchra Karboubi

Moroccan referee Bouchra Karboubi took charge of the Group A match between Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau at Afcon 2023 as part of an all-female officiating team
Moroccan referee Bouchra Karboubi took charge of the Group A match between Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau at Afcon 2023 as part of an all-female officiating team PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Armed with a whistle and the confidence of many nations Moroccan Bouchra Karboubi took charge of the final group A fixture Nigeria vs Guinea Bissau and became the first North African woman to officiate a men's football match and also the second female referee to officiate a major men's football tournament in Africa.

This was a huge development accompanied by the fact that AFCON 2023 itself had a total of 5 female referees who were internal components of the tournament itself the very first of its kind for Africa.

Describing her experience Bouchra stated, "Refereeing this match was an honor for me. During the last AFCON, I was the first woman to do VAR, I was in the final and on this AFCON, I am a central referee. It was a pride for me to represent African women and to represent refereeing in Africa. The Guinea Bissau – Nigeria match was a serious challenge for me. We had to show that we are here, the first women’s referee trio. So, we had no room for error because we did our best to live up to the trust that CAF placed in us."

More young female journalists

AFCON 2023 saw more young female journalist (Photojournalist, print and media) all show huge interest in the tournament. This was a first of its kind and it also showed that barriers that exists were slowly starting to fade away. For some it was its first of its kind whilst for others it was another learning experinece that surpassed their expectations. Female photojournalists who stood out for us include,

  • Weam Mostafa Elsayed - Egypt
  • Justina Aniefiok - Nigeria
  • Sarjo Baldeh - Gambia
  • Khady Sy - Mauritania

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