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Issues Faced by Females in Sports

  • 23 Jan 2023
  • 10 min read

Prelims: Sexism, Gender Disparity, Women Safety.

Mains: Issues Faced Females in Sports.

Why in News?

Recently, some sportspersons made allegations of sexual harassment against WFI (Wrestling Federation of India) president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

  • Sports Ministry demands explanation from WFI within 72 hours, if WFI fails to furnish the reply, the Ministry will proceed to initiate action against the Federation in terms of the provisions of the National Sports Development Code, 2011.

What is the Scenario of Such Allegations?

  • According to RTI (Right to Information) Data, between 2010 to 2020, there were 45 complaints of sexual harassment to the SAI (Sports Authority of India), of which 29 were against coaches.
  • In several of these reported cases, the accused were let off leniently, with punishments that consisted of transfers to a meager cut in pay or pension.
  • Some of the cases have not seen the end of the tunnel with many dragging on for years, with no resolutions in sight.
    • Abuse in sports was a poll issue in Germany in 2021. The Federal Parliament's Sports Committee hosted a public hearing on emotional, physical and sexualised violence in sports in May 2021.
  • It is about time India discussed the issue and not wait for athletes to stage protests at Jantar Mantar to be heard.
  • Living in the 21st century, where we have devised the technology to monitor robots to do our bidding, there’s still one aspect where we fall grossly short when it comes to progress — gender equality.

What are the Issues Faced by Sportswomen?

  • Funding and Budget:
    • Sportswomen face a lack of equal funding compared to men's athletics, making it difficult for them to compete and run consistent programs.
  • Buoyant Sexism:
    • Women are made to face the barrels of buoyant sexism on a daily basis, be it at work or even at home. They are monitored and judged by the way they dress, by the way they speak.
  • Gender Disparity:
    • Despite women's efforts to advocate for their social rights, they still do not receive the same level of respect or recognition on the professional front, particularly in the sports industry, as their male counterparts.
  • Lack of Access and Costlier:
    • Lack of physical education in schools and limited opportunities to play sports in both high school and college mean girls have to look elsewhere for sports –which may not exist or may cost more money.
    • Often there is an additional lack of access to adequate playing facilities near their homes that makes it more difficult for girls to engage in sports.
  • Safety and Transportation Issues:
    • Sports require a place to participate – and for many girls, especially in dense urban environments, that means traveling to facilities through unsafe neighborhoods or lacking any means to get to a good facility miles away.
    • And if there isn’t a safe option like carpooling with other families, the only option for a girl and her family may be to stay home.
      • For example, Manipur is a sporting powerhouse, but 48% of female athletes travel over 10 km to reach the practice facility.
  • Social Attitudes and Disfigurement:
    • Despite recent progress, discrimination based on the real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity of female athletes persists.
    • Girls in sports may experience bullying, social isolation, negative performance evaluations, or the loss of their starting position.
    • During socially fragile adolescence, the fear of being tagged “gay” is strong enough to push many girls out of the game.
  • Decreased Quality Training:
    • The facilities are not as good as the boys’ venues and the playing times may not be optimal.
    • The availability of quality, trained coaches may be lacking in their community or these coaches may be more focused on the boys’ programs that have more money for training.
    • Equipment, and even uniforms aren’t funded for many girls’ programs at the same levels as boys so their ability to grow and enjoy the sport is diminished. In short, sports just aren’t “fun” any more.
  • Lack of Positive Role Models:
    • Today’s girls are bombarded with images of external beauty, not those of confident, strong female athletic role models.
    • Peer pressure can be hard for girls at any age; when that pressure isn’t offset with strong encouragement to participate in sports and healthy physical activity, the results may lead girls to drop out altogether.
  • Limited Media Coverage:
    • Women's sports are often underrepresented in the media, which can make it harder for female athletes to gain recognition and sponsorship opportunities.
  • Pregnancy and Maternity:
    • Female athletes often face challenges balancing motherhood and their sports careers.
    • This can affect the training and competing opportunities for female athletes.

Why is it Important for More Women Participation in Sports?

  • Physical and Mental Health:
    • Sports can have a positive impact on physical and mental health for both men and women.
      • Girls active in sports during adolescence and young adulthood are 20% less likely to get breast cancer later in life.
  • Gender Parity:
    • By providing equal opportunities and resources for women in sports, we can help to break down barriers and stereotypes that limit women's potential and participation in other areas of life.
      • Sport in its most basic form encourages balanced participation and has the capacity to promote gender equality (SDG Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all Achieve women and girls)
  • Economic Empowerment:
    • Women who participate in sports often have more opportunities for education and employment, which can lead to greater economic empowerment.
  • Rectify Societal Connotations:
    • Women's participation in sports can also help to change societal attitudes towards women and their capabilities.
    • By seeing women excel in sports, it can inspire more women to pursue their own goals and aspirations, and challenge stereotypes about what women are capable of achieving.
  • Representation:
    • Women's participation in sports can help to provide better representation for women in leadership roles, including coaching and administration.
    • It can also serve as an inspiration for young girls to pursue sports as a career.
  • Community Building:
    • Sports can bring people together and promote greater understanding and respect between different groups within society.
    • By promoting greater participation in sports among women, we can help to build stronger and more inclusive communities.

What are the Safeguard Measures for Sexual Harassment?

Way Forward

  • Women's participation in sports in India has been traditionally low due to cultural and societal attitudes. However, in recent years there have been efforts to promote and encourage women's participation in sports, such as the implementation of policies to increase funding and resources for female athletes, and the creation of programs to encourage girls to participate in sports from a young age.
  • Despite these efforts, there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving gender parity in sports participation and representation in India.
  • Sports in India is in the process of development. To accelerate this rate of development, a holistic approach should be adopted. Efforts are required in developing infrastructure, identifying sports talents, organising regular sports events, and generating awareness at the grass-root level.

Source: TH

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