Scorecard on Women

Scorecard on Women's Day: Sexism - 1, Sportswomen - 0

Tennis superstar Sania Mirza has spoken out against it. Squash ace Dipika Pallikal has taken a stand against it. And athletics legend PT Usha has approached higher authorities to quell it.

But despite some of the most influential women in sports in India openly speaking about the evils of gender discrimination in sports, it continues to rear its ugly head.

World over, women are seen and treated differently in the sphere of sports. A recent example was when the England national women's football team returned home from Canada last year after winning the bronze medal in the World Cup.

They played well through the tournament and captured the imagination of an entire nation. But shockingly, the English Football Association summed up their participation in the tournament with this casually sexist tweet.

England FA tweet.

When Sania Mirza won the Wimbledon Women's Doubles title last year, here's what she said:

"I won Wimbledon on Sunday, and on Tueday I was asked when I'm planning to have a child."

Simply put, society simply cannot seem to comprehend the idea of a successful sportswoman.

Media houses and broadcasters are notorious for passing up coverage of women's sporting events in favour of men's sports. An argument that is used to justify this line of thought is that women's sport is simply not of the same standard or caliber as men's sport - which is thought to be the more competitive of the two, and consequently, the more coveted of the two by broadcasters in their quest for TRPs.

It could very well be a culmination of mentalities that translates into a pay disparity for male and female athletes. If the England Football Association's tweet was just an 'innocently' patronising statement, differential pay is the most naked manifestation of the attitudes that are held towards women in sport.

Dipika Pallikal came out against this in 2015 when she refused to take part in the National Squash Championships. Why? The prize money for the winner in the male category was Rs 1,20,000 while the prize money for the winner in the female category was less than half that - Rs 50,000.

"I feel we deserve equal pay like most of the tournaments which are becoming equal prize money on the PSA professional circuit. I don't see why there should be a difference between men and women," the squash star said.

Unfortunately, Pallikal's comment garnered criticism from her own fellow players for prioritising money and not playing the sport for the love of it.

A lot can be done to help the cause of female athletes and how they are perceived. Inclusion of more females in the administrative setup would certainly be a step in the right direction, and equal media coverage would also go a long way in ensuring an equal society.

But fundamentally, the change must start from within. Do you have what it takes?

Suyash Upadhyaya

Suyash Upadhyaya @SuyashU