India achieved her independence decades ago and we boast of having come a long way ahead. However, our mentality and thinking has not changed much. The best example for this statement is the situation of sports in India. The most important question that we need to ask is whether women sports players in India are given the importance that they deserve. There is a very prominent bias in our attitude to sportswomen and gender based discrimination is invariably practised in our country. Although, as a country, we have produced many world famous sportswomen who are doing really well in their professions by winning so many medals for our country, they are not given enough attention. The gender discrimination in this field is higher when compared to any other field. It is indeed a state of pity that we cannot even name the female athletes who represent our country and give us recognition on the world map.
There are many examples that prove that gender discrimination exists right out there, but very few people talk about it. In the past, Jwala Gutta, one of the best badminton players, had criticised V.K Verma, the then Badminton Association President, for not even congratulating her when she won the gold medal in Commonwealth Games. Many other women, like Sania Mirza, have also raised this issue but nothing has been done about it. Often, sportsmen achieve more respect and fame than women who play the same sport, in spite of them doing equally well. For instance, Virat Kohli is the captain of the men’s Indian cricket team and Mithali Raj is the captain of the women’s Indian cricket team, the latter person also happens to be the first person to score a double hundred in women’s cricket and yet not many of us are aware about this. The gender bias in our sports is so evident that, Virat Kohli is the brand ambassador of many companies like Puma and Colgate, whereas Mithali Raj does not get the same recognition.
We need to fight for gender equality in sports. These days everyone talks about feminism in many contexts with varied meanings. In fact some of these meanings demean men but that is not what we need. Although many say that feminism is not a needed movement today as women are flourishing in many arenas, there is still a lot more that needs to be done for women. We need a society where women and men are treated equally in professional spaces and otherwise. It is unfair when both the genders have same capabilities and talent yet one receives more pay, more fame, more recognition and respect than the other. Yes, it is also true that there exists a huge gender bias when it comes to the payments as well. The men are paid much more than the women. This is again unfair and needs to be looked into.
Today we see so many people voicing out their opinions on many issues, however not many people discuss about gender bias in sports. This is because the bias has been ingrained in our subconscious. It is a pity that we do not recognise when Indian women are making their presence felt everywhere. While we speak of equality in corporate spaces, we should not be ignoring the same in the sports field too.
Gender discrimination in sports can be stated as the main reason for many parents’ reluctance to send their children to participate in sport events. The fact that there is no certainty makes it a risky profession. To add to this uncertainty, girls have to go through the problem of having to face gender bias as well. This will limit the number of female sports persons that we can produce as a country. We need to make it easier and give equal opportunities for growth to women in the country. This will happen only if we recognise the efforts of the sportswomen and give them equal status as their male counterparts.
Picture Credits : thebridge