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Contribution and growth of women in sports in India

Although today Serena Williams, Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu and Mary Kom are household names but 120 years ago, when first modern Olympics were held girls were not allowed even as spectators. They have proved time and again that they are not weaker section of the society and they too can put up with the physical stress of competitive sports.

Feminine sports included gag stories where beauty assumed its best as gentle, passive and frail had to fight long battle to pedal their way to glory in sports in opposition to the idea that because of their biological specifications, exercise will cause their muscles to grow like men with tanned skin and body unable to sustain shocks. Women physiology and objectification of their body were other main reasons for non-allowance into sports.

But breaking all the folklore the women since 1970 have proved their prowess and represented in recreational sports and fitness activities regularly. Title IX and the Amateur Sports Act  of 1972 opened the doors for women to participate in the male-dominated institution of American sports  as it prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, and physical disability in  open, amateur sports. Historian Kathleen E. McCrone writes in her book “Playing the Game: Sport and the Physical Emancipation of English Women 1870-1914.” That physical effort, like running, jumping and climbing might damage their reproductive organs and make them unattractive to men.”

In India a country where there is general lethargic attitude towards sports, lack of encouragement toward sports-oriented mindset up from family because of traditional way of living and despite the limited support from the government both in infrastructure and morale boost up, we observe the role of women in sports has been quite appreciable and we celebrate it as well. They have combated all odds and conquered challenges to play for the nation. There are women who have taken firmed pathways, struggled hard and stood for the country internationally. Some got noticed and well recognized like P.T. Usha, Saina Nehwal, Mary Kom, Sania Mirza. But few are less known but their accomplishments no less than the distinguished counterparts. Ishita Malviya, 1st Indian woman surfer, Mira Erda, the first Indian female formula racer, Archana Sardana, India’s 1st, woman BASE (Building Aerial Span Earth) jumper, Koneru Humpy , the World Women Chess Champion,    are a few , who are chasing their dreams with vigor and passion and hooked on to their quest of achieving excellence

Sports for many women are not a leisure pursuit but a way of livelihood. Professional sporting performance sometimes is not a public significance but acquires an individualistic approach when taken as professional sporting career.  Wall Street Journal states “from 2016 to 2018, revenue collected from women’s games was $50.8 million as compared to $49.9 million for men surprisingly only 5% sports segments belong to women while 92% to men and 3% combined. But alas! Still women face gender parity, less media coverage and lower pay which is prevalent globally. Even social media campaigns and federal lawsuits have been found unable to address these inequalities. Women sportspersons are socking up all stereotypes doing directional work on elevated accomplishment ambitions. India as to go long way to upgrade women’s sport and needs to be more encouraging in terms of funding and social barriers overall.

Despite divisional hierarchy, the role and status of Indian women in sports is not only drawing parallels with men but rather outshining them. The Olympic 2019 results are proof to the commanding presence exhibited by women and glory brought to the country. 

“Sport has huge potential to empower women and girls” — Lakshmi Puri, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director “I am tough, I am ambitious and I know what exactly do I want …

-Gurkirandeep kaur