Gender inequality or gender discrimination that women have to face everywhere in the world and in every field. But, in the sporting industry thus Gender inequality is so blatant that it is now viewed as normal.
Female athletes have been engaged in an eternal fight for their basic rights to participate and play sports, and most importantly be given the same opportunity as men are given when it comes to sports.
Women athletes have to not just faces challenges on the fields, but also off it. There are so many socio-political factors that are involved in this, that it becomes a very complicated problem to solve.
The issue stems from the deep-rooted patriarchal ideology that sports are a male-dominated field and women have no part to play. Women not only have to overcome such a sexist mentality but also have to deal with the wage gap, being objectified on the field and poor facilities.
This is a huge issue and a big obstacle toward women empowerment. We decided to sit down and write about certain ways that this obstacle can be removed and a new era sans Gender inequality be started.
One basic way to empower women and drive them to sports is to empower them. More often than not in India, PT periods usually give boys the freedom to play whatever sport they want but restrict girls to take part in any physically challenging games. Men need to be educated about the fact that girls too can play any sport that they male. More schools need to educate and push girls towards sports so that they at least have that option. The basic mentality of using ‘run like a girl’ or ‘throw like a girl’ as an insult needs to be eradicated- and only education can do that.
Women in Saudi Arabia are still not allowed to partake in major sports, as it is seen as a manly activity. In Iraq, a few women were jailed because they were watching a football match in a stadium. Girls need to be taught from childhood that sports are a career that they can aspire to break into without thinking of the comments that they might have to hear.
Provide Infrastructure and Resources
Olympian Dipa Karmakar- lamented how she had to make a makeshift infrastructure using a scooter seat to practice her vault. This itself shows how pathetic and how vast Gender inequality in sports in India is. Government hardly puts any money into developing the infrastructure for women sports, due to which they are unable to practice. It is difficult to even get coaches and trainers for women engaging in any sport. Men athletes do not have to face such an issue. There is a lot of money pumped into their sporting facilities, like academies and practice equipment to help them succeed. This factor has to be improved severely.
The government can give grants and put some money into this field, as a good boost and incentive are needed to make erase the gendered bias. There are also be mixed men and women matches so that men too can see what women are capable of doing in comparison to their own talents. This will also give women athletes a boost and a rise in confidence.
Stop Sexual Harassment
One of the major issues that really is terrible in the sporting world is sexual harassment. Players like Jwala Gutta has spoken about how their coach sexually abused and treated them poorly. This is a severe issue when it comes to gender bias in sports. The sporting world is so tight-lipped that very few people speak up, yet the problem is more visible than ever. Women’s hockey team too had accused their former coach of abusing them. It is very difficult to weed out gender bias in sports until this problem is not resolved. This can be solved by – having a proper helpline number to report these crimes in the arena of sports, and by employing more and more female staff and female coaches.
More Media Coverage
Gender bias is heightened when media shows next to no interest in covering women sports. It also further adds to the problem by portraying women in a sexist and objectified way. Most of the women sports coverage talk about their fashion styles and the dresses they wear. This is not the way to cover a sports player or event. No one starts talking about how Roger Federer looks or what he is wearing, but there are millions of articles about how Serena Williams dresses. There is more coverage on that than on her skills and her talent.
Media also tends to avoid including women in sports in interviews. They keep asking the women about their favourite cricketer, as they consider male cricket as the only important game. It is only recently that women cricket in India garnered some media coverage thanks to their brilliant performances. However, it is not even near to the amount of coverage Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah or the whole make India cricket team enjoys.
Interviewers also tend to ask female athletes more about ‘having babies’ and ‘getting married’
If the media themselves do not portray women and show the world what they are doing, then it will prove to be a very long battle to get women out of the gender bias when it comes to sports.
We have reached the era of change, where women are coming out and controlling their own lives and career. Sport is a field that is something that still hasn’t fully adjusted to this new era of change, where all these biases are not acceptable anymore. The Metoo movement also has helped women athletes to come up and speak about the bias in the industry. This has ushered in a welcome change, where female athletes are continuously pushing the boundary. However, female athletes should not just be recognised when they achieved something- they should just be represented as men athletes are represented in the mainstream media. The rest of the changes need to come from within the sporting fraternity and from the government.
Read More : Sports and Rising Nationalism
Also published on Medium.