India’s women in blue: waiting for their time to come

After qualifying for the final in 2017 World Cup and the 2020 T20 World Cup, the hope that women’s cricket in India had turned the corner was belied when the team failed to make it to the semi-finals for the first time since 2016.

There was no shortage of talent from the experienced Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, who between them have played 432 ODIs, to Harmanpreet Kaul who has played more than 100 games. Balancing this was a raft of younger players including Shafali Verma who made her debut as a 15-year-old in 2019.

So what went wrong?

“World Cups are rarely won (or lost) by individuals, or teams, or moments. World Cups are won by systems,” writes Snehal Pradhan, a former cricket player and now a columnist.

A good system doesn’t try out new batting positions at a World Cup. It has continuity of coaching staff and opportunity. The less-than-enthusiastic push for a woman’s IPL and a failure to spot talent at a U-16 tournament are signs of a floundering system, continues Pradhan.

Yet, the team is a “formidable force in the global order”, finds Equal Hue, an initiative to push women’s cricket in India. Its report, based on interviews with 350 domestic cricket players, calls upon the BCCI to define women’s sporting excellence. “With its actions, it can set the standards in performance, financial well-being, player welfare and health and safety to be emulated by other sports bodies.”

Amrit Mathur, a former administrator and cricket columnist, agrees: “Women’s cricket is not receiving the sort of attention it deserves from the BCCI.” To start with, the pool of girls who want to play is small and the cricket body needs to undertake a major drive to get more to play.

Getting girls to play

It’s not an easy task when girls are discouraged, often by their families, to play sport. The Equal Hue report found that 79.6% of 350 players had been told not to play by their immediate families.

But family is not the only obstacle. Physical barriers include the lack of facilities like changing rooms. Safety in public spaces, including public transport, is definitely an issue. Allegations of sexual harassment by coaches, as happened in March 2020 against the Baroda team coach, are a deterrent.

There are financial barriers too. Cricket is expensive compared to, say, athletics, football and badminton. Women spend the same as men to develop their skills but earn a fraction of what they do. The lowest rank male player on the BCCI scale earns twice as much as the highest rank female player. And 84.5% players told Equal Hue that the fees they earned from domestic cricket did not provide them a regular income.

Moving ahead

The focus has to shift to getting more girls to play starting at the grassroots school level and to play different formats not just T-20, says Mathur.

Equal Hue recommends far greater investment, planned with a fixed-term vision. For instance, the England and Wales cricket board committed to a 20 million pound investment over two years starting in 2020.

Areas where India have seen to be traditionally lacking—fielding, fitness, running between wickets, pace bowling, even mental fitness—need to be tackled with appropriate coaching strategy, getting in specialist staff where needed.

Talk of a women’s IPL, albeit with fewer teams, has been around since 2010 but there has been little movement forward in the 12 years since.

But perhaps the greatest challenge for women’s cricket, says sports writer Sharda Ugra, is that ‘nobody owns it’. “There is a gap of not just resources, funds and sponsors, but more crucially of intent,” she says.


Twice Olympic medalist PV Sindhu played her third successive final in Basel on March 27 to sweep the Swiss Open. She is now the second Indian woman to win the title after Saina Nehwal claimed it in 2011 and 2012. “These wins give me a lot of confidence,” Sindhu told Sandip Sikdar. It’s a big year with the Commonwealth and Asian Games and the world championship to look forward to.


“Parenting is a joint responsibility…there is a deep rooted mindset that women have to bring up children…why are all members of the creche committee women? Why are there no men in the committee? This is because of the mindset.”

Justice Indira Banerjee of the Supreme Court while inaugurating a creche at the Delhi High Court.


On International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, it is worth remembering that 4.8 million people in India identify as transgender, according to the 2011 Census. But three in four in the National Capital Region and 82% in Uttar Pradesh have no jobs with 69% working in the informal sector. Over half, or 53%, earn less than Rs 10,000 a month.

Source: National Human Rights Commission 2017 study of 900 transgender people in four districts of Uttar Pradesh and the National Capital Region (there is no pan India data available).


Ariana DeBose won best supporting actress for West Side Story and became the first openly queer woman of colour to win an Oscar. “To anybody who has ever questioned your identity ever, ever, ever, or you find yourself living in the grey spaces, I promise you this: There is indeed a place for us.”

Watch here.


More inclusive NALSAR

The National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR), Hyderabad has introduced initiatives like creating gender-neutral hostel rooms and bathrooms to make the campus more inclusive for those who are gender non-conforming. In doing so, the law school joins the Tata Institute for Social Sciences that already has a gender neutral space in its women’s hostel and Ashoka University that has gender neutral toilets.

Outrage over doctor’s death by suicide in Rajasthan

A woman doctor charged with causing a pregnant woman’s death at a private hospital in Rajasthan’s Dausa has died by suicide, causing outrage and protest. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot has promised to file a case against those who harassed her. In her note, the doctor had said that the patient, a mother of three girls, died due to postpartum haemorrhage and not because she had made an error. The doctor’s husband has alleged extortion, blackmail and a compromised legal system for his wife’s death. He says local BJP leaders egged the woman’s husband on to file murder charges.

Appeal against bishop’s acquittal

The survivor in the nun rape case and the Kerala state government have decided to file separate appeals against the acquittal of rape charges of Bishop Franco Mulakkal by a district and sessions court. A government spokesperson said there was strong evidence against the former bishop of Jalandhar that had been overlooked by the judge.


What chimpanzees and bonobos tell us about gender

How different are men and women, and are these differences caused by nature or nurture? Renowned primatologist and author of Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatalogist, Frans de Waal draws on decades of observation to find that biology does not automatically support humans’ traditional gender roles.

Through his work with chimpanzees (male-dominated and violent) and bonobos (female-dominated and peaceful), he finds that political power is distinguished from physical dominance. Leadership, he argues, is not limited to either species’ males.

He will be speaking on the subject at a ticketed event in collaboration with The Smithsonian on April 13. You can buy your ticket here.


Taliban continues its journey into the dark ages

Furthering its repressive regime against women, the Taliban has decreed that Afghan women who travel within the country or abroad must be escorted by male relatives. Parks will also be segregated by sex and, it is being reported that government employees will be required to wear traditional dress and sport beards. Just a week earlier, the Taliban sent home girls who had turned up to attend secondary school reneging on a promise that girls would not be denied education.

Don’t say gay bill passed, and challenged

Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis has signed a controversial bill that will ban public primary school teachers from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity, dubbed by opponents as the ‘Don’t say gay’ bill. Politico reports that LGBTQI advocates have sued the state and DeSantis in court calling the bill an “unlawful attempt to stigmatise, silence, and erase LGBTQ people”.

X option

Starting April 11, Americans will be able to select an X gender designation on their passports, a new option for those who don’t identify as exclusively male or female.


April, the birth month of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, is Dalit History Month that has since 2015 celebrated the history of the struggle for social emancipation and ensured that those at its forefront are not forgotten or erased.

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That’s it for this week. If you have a tip or information on gender-related developments that you would like to share write to me at:
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