Combating Gender Discrimination in Sports
The decision of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the custodian of the laws of cricket to replace the male-centric term batsman with batter, is merely cosmetic in nature. Surely, the decision to banish the term will not help much in erasing the existing gender disparity in the sporting arena. Rather, women will still remain as an afterthought in sports. The sporting activities all over the world will continue to be dominated by male only.
How the world neglect women sports persons can be judged from the fact that despite MCC being housed in Lords, which is always referred as the Mecca of cricket, not a single women’s test match has so far been played on this iconic ground, though women’s cricket started in United Kingdom way back in 1745. Another famous cricket ground in London, the Oval has stopped staging women’s test matches since 1976. The scenario is no different in India. India’s most popular cricket ground the Eden Gardens staged only five international matches so far, while eight matches were held in the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.
Such discrimination against women sportspersons is going on for years. It is not an exaggeration to say that women have never got their due share in sports. They have never been taken seriously. The discrimination runs down so deep that the injury of Roger Federer is discussed more, rather than the pertinent issues relating to players’ privacy raised by Naomi Osaka. Mithali Raj, the highest run getter in women’s cricket is still waiting for recognition, but cricketers whose achievements are nowhere near to her success, have already been awarded several times.
It is often being said that women’s sporting events do not get proper attention as it cannot attract a crowd or sponsorship, like the men’s sports. But the fact remains that as long as the discrimination continues, it is very difficult to catch the attention of the sponsors towards women’s sporting events. Sponsors or the public are not reluctant to support women’s sporting events. Thus the need is to make efforts to market women’s sporting events with professionalism, so that more girls get attracted to sports.
In this direction the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has taken an important and appropriate step. The IOC has made it mandatory for any sporting discipline to be included in the Olympics to have both the men’s and women’s events. As a result in the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics there were more women sportspersons in the USA, China, Australia and Great Britain contingents. Similar efforts should be made by all the sporting federations all over the world. The sporting associations should not be allowed to start any activitiy without providing equal opportunity for women sportspersons in the same discipline. For example, as the men’s and women’s World T20 Cricket Championship are held simultaneously, bilateral cricket series should also be planned in the same way, so that women cricketers can get proper opportunity to show their skills. The formula should be applied in all sporting events to put up a proper fight in the combat to end gender discrimination in sports.