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Let “Her” Pick The Bat First, Talk About Cricket And Men Later

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By Pooja Baburaj:

“I had resolved to never set out of my mind in the winter solstice of 2012. Usually my grand awakening from a royal slumber is a sight to behold only after the clock strikes 12 in the noon. The timings are of course subjective to alterations based on the strategies adopted by my mum — a bucket of water indeed works the best. But this time, I made sure I was wide awake at the break of dawn. This time, I was the one prancing about the house sniffing through sweatshirts and sock pairs to identify the clean pairs and smacking black polish over blue sneakers. I slid down the stairs, barely missing a break in my bottoms; sprinted 3000m leapt over the school gates and joined my team members who were in the process of performing warm-ups. My sweat froze over my skin but the excitement of what was to follow put me in the heat. The girls’ cricket team was ready to go; we chattered ecstatically & laughed hysterically as we put on our gear. The jersey, the breeze and a slow—mo – we strode in ‘tashan-shtyle’ into the pitch which was anticipated to be filled with the cricket frenzy citizens of India. I had previously estimated nearly 500 pairs of eyes to be set on me as I played my debut shot. Unfortunately, all I could see was my mum holding up a placard that said ‘My daughter is no. 1’. A few other parents, teacher and friends filled up 60 of the 500 seats of the local stadium.” — Diary of a young (female) cricketer

The above excerpt is undoubtedly universal and unquestionably omnipresent in nature — in the company of certain minor exceptions like a different cast of women and more or less drama involved. The near-invisible preparation for the upcoming women’s cricket World Cup in Mumbai is the latest in the records. A scanty, paltry $3.5 million that has been budgeted for the event exemplifies the apathy that continues to plague the women’s game. The men’s cricket, which always gets to picnic on the greener grass and bask in a daily dose of sunshine, had a world cup with a budget of $160 million. Another notable variation is the nonexistence of heavy promotions held months in advance with some of the most popular faces of the silver screen hopping and squatting to catchy jingles. The dearth of interest in what is a marquee event for women cricketers betrays the game’s patriarchal moorings. For women’s cricket to break through the glass ceiling weighing them in, governing bodies of the game have to do much more in terms of funding and publicity.

women cricket

Cricket moguls argue that the game is governed by market forces and that the women’s game basically lack commercial value. It is true that modern-day cricket owes its sensation and success to TV viewership and broadcasting revenues. But one cannot simply conclude that the women’s game doesn’t have commercial potential unless one has invested in it. While the BCCI has no drought of funds, its failure to develop the women’s game is of a part of its pack of general malfunctions in nurturing cricket at the grass roots of the nation. “That’s why it’s unable to find sufficient talent to replace ageing greats even for the men’s cricketing team.” — The National.

The solution is straightforward – It needs to invest much more in base-level infrastructure so that young girls, like young boys, can see cricket as a viable career option. Women in badminton and tennis have a very large fan-following, and there’s no absolutely reason why things should be significantly diverse for women’s cricket if marketed well enough. Given the fanaticism of the game in the Indian subcontinent, the BCCI should take the lead in promoting the Indian women’s team — considering their incredibly impressive records which include ranking 1 in all formats. How about getting the women’s cricket team to endorse Pepsi along with Dhoni and his blue men for a start?

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  1. Karmanye Thadani

    Good article! Also, I believe that almost every Indian girl has played cricket in some amateur form, and this can help in promoting women’s cricket. Some policy reforms on the part of the government can also help. Have a look at this article of mine –

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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