It is a man’s world. At least when it comes to sports. Women athletes are not really given the light of day unless they win big. Some people justify it by saying that women’s bodies aren’t really built for sports, or that they’re not so much into sports anyway. But what they really need to understand is that women need to work especially hard to come up in sports or even become moderately famous for their talent.
For most, if a sportswoman is good looking - it is just easier for her to steal the limelight, say from someone who has more talent than her. It's a reality, and the media is sexist. However, it doesn’t stop women from getting into sports.
Women all over the world have pushed boundaries, and therefore we are where we are. We have all the sports for women too, but they’re not even half as televised as sports for men.
Anand Datla, Head of Sports at Tata Trusts told us, "One of the major challenges for women in India remains the burden of cultural baggage that acts as a hurdle for development. Despite some changes in this millennium, there is still some distance to go before women in India are afforded fair opportunities for a career in international sport."
There are several challenges that women athletes face in their careers, but the biggest challenges are listed below.
Women Athletes Bleed
While this is true for all women, athletes have a hard time keeping up while they have their period. Menstruation can bring along a lot of side effects such as fatigue, nausea, pain, depression and more - but women athletes fight all of this and keep practising and participating.
They are always asked when they will start a family
No matter how many titles they may have won, somehow the media still believes that a woman athlete is only “settled” once she has a husband and family. Male athletes are never put through such questions, all questions directed to them are focussed only on their careers. Sania Mirza gave a fitting reply to Rajdeep Sardesai when he asked her when she is going to "settle down" - she said, "that’s the question I face all the time as a woman, that all women have to face — the first is marriage and then it’s motherhood. Unfortunately, that’s when we’re settled, and no matter how many Wimbledons we win or number ones in the world we become, we don’t become settled. "
Women Athletes Are Paid, Less
Women's tournaments have low prize money. Everyone knows that. Would the women’s cricket world cup prize money ever compare to the Cricket World Cup? (They don’t even bother writing ‘male’). If you thought that the pay gap in your profession was big, this is even larger when it comes to sports. There is a blatant discrimination.
They are objectified on the field
Most often than not, women athletes are objectified. They’re called ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’ rather than being called a champion or talented. This is a very sad reality of women in sports. Men are always out there to objectify women, no matter what their talent. Anand explains,
Another aspect is the predatory nature of the eco-system that governs sport in India. Unfortunately, women face far more challenges emerging through the cave of athletic development. Only the strong willed and determined can prevail by surviving the hostile and abusive environment that prevails around domestic sport.
They Don’t have Job Security
Female athletes in India don’t have job security. Once they have passed their prime, or retire, they don’t know how they will support their families. Although there are a few programs by the government to get jobs for women under sports quota, they usually end up getting very low-paying jobs. When in fact, they could become coaches, commentators and more. The opportunities for women who have retired from sports are even lesser.
Pic credits: Unsplash.com
Also read: Are women rewriting India’s sports history?