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You Know Of Sachin, But Do You Know Of These Amazing Achievers?

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By Pallavi Ghosh

Imagine what it would be like if Sachin after scoring a century was faced with a bunch of indifferent people saying, “So what?” We like to believe that we are a nation of warm people, who love appreciating skills and efforts of our countrymen and others as well. But are we equally welcoming and appreciative of all sport stars? Take a look at some of these wonder women who despite having created many national and international records, might not be as easily etched in our minds as an unforgettable Sachin.

Clockwise from top left: Geeta Phogat, Tintu Luka, Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla, Koneru Humpy, Preeti Kumari
Clockwise from top left: Geeta Phogat, Tintu Luka, Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla, Koneru Humpy, Preeti Kumari

Tintu Luka

Tintu was born and brought up in Valathode- a small village in the Kannur district of Kerala. This April born athlete bagged a gold medal recently in June 2015 in the 800 metres final at Wuhan. Luka touched the red ribbon recording a win in 2:01.53. However her career best has been at Split (Paljoud Stadion) where her record timings were 1:59:17 back in 2010. You can try running away from her achievements, but with her speed Luka is likely to catch up pretty effortlessly with you. Whooosh!

Koneru Humpy

The one name that comes to every mind when one speaks of chess is that of the Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. But he is not the only one making a name for India through strategic moves on a board. Meet Koneru Humpy. Humpy is an Indian chess Grandmaster and is currently ranked 3rd in world ranking with a peak rating of 2623 in 2009. At 15, Humpy held the record of being the youngest woman Grandmaster ever and retained the title for 6 long years. In 1999, she emerged as Asia’s youngest International Woman Master and two years later won the World junior championship in Athens. You think women play mind games? Try out-mastering Humpy.

Geeta Phogat

Geeta Phogat is India’s first woman wrestler to qualify for the Olympics back in 2012. So it was in Balali village in Haryana that people thought women had no business muscling their way around in the world. For some, they still do not have any business in the world at all, as they are seen to be a burden on the family. There came Geeta, who literally fought her way into the world and made a significant space for her in it. With no women wrestlers to compete with, Geeta wrestled with men. Ka-pow!

Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla

Not even two years after being born, Malathi Krishnamurthy Holla was rendered paralysed due to polio. It was a regular electric shock treatment for two years that restored the strength of her upper body, although the lower portion below the waist remained weak.

Holla did not back down and started pursuing sports to live life in the best possible way. She began with participating in games at the college level and was soon taking part in international events as well including the Para-Olympics. And the best she did achieve. She has won more than 300 medals at the national and international levels. From 100m and 200m race to javelin, discus and shot put, Malathi has won medals in all of them. Given her mammoth achievements, she was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1995 and the Padama Shri in2001.

Preeti Kumari

Born in a village in eastern UP, Preeti Kumari faced an early bump in her aspiration as a basketball player when her father, Basant Singh Yadav said, “Humaari bitiya basketball nahi khelegi (My daughter will not play basketball).” It was Anita Devi, her mother who got the better of her husband and convinced him to allow Preeti to follow her aspirations. It was in the college courts of Udia Pratap in Varanasi that Preeti, who is now known as the Pocket Dynamite, was first taken in by the sport. From a casual whim to a promising career, Preeti’s success in basketball at the national level has indeed been a dream run. Amongst her achievements are the 51-point score in an overtime at the junior nationals against the stalwarts in the game – Tamil Nadu. It was again in the 65th National Basketball Championship in 2014, that Preeti made the most out of her time in the court despite a leg injury and scored a quick 17 points in the second half of the match. Uttar Pradesh managed to secure a bronze medal at the national level by defeating Maharashtra by two points. The promising player believes that her biggest strength comes from her fearless attitude. She says, “I think my biggest strength is that I am never afraid. I just work hard knowing that people will support me in my ambitions.

If this is the first time you are hearing of them, may be you can hear the sound of an alarming bias beeping in you. I could hear it too. But the idea is not to go in an everlasting guilt trip; it is to begin by acknowledging, recognising and celebrating the talent and achievements of women sport stars much like we do for our Sachins and Kohlis.

You must be to comment.
  1. B

    It is unfair to take their lack of popularity and compare it with Sachin’s, as there are countless male athletes who have achieved wonders and are not famous.

  2. Jigsaw

    “…recognising and celebrating the talent and achievements of women sport stars much like we do for our Sachins and Kohlis.”

    Female sports stars are recognized all over the world. We revere the Sanias and the Sainas as much as we recognize the Sachins and Kohlis – everything does not have to turn into a gender issue. In case you are trying to hint at why there is more coverage of male sports, it is because men sacrifice more, and are better. The best male football player is better than the best female football player. The fastest man in the world is faster than the fastest woman in the world. The best male snowboarder in the world can do tricks with a higher degree of difficulty than the best female snowboarder in the world. The best male golf player can drive farther than the best female golf player in the world. The list is endless. These are facts. Men are better at sports. Men have more strength, stamina, speed, skill. That is why people pay more to watch men play, and that is why there is more coverage of male sports.

    1. Pallavi Ghosh

      So, here is a thought for those who think gender is dragged into every single issue. Yes, there are many talented and skilled male players across the globe and to celebrate them is not a crime. The article never said that stop celebrating our Sachins and Kohlis. Their credentials were never doubted. But here is the thing, women often lose out of opportunities- discrimination exist at the level of letting them being born, to sending them to schools, to giving them equal and healthy nutrition. So when you speak of healthier men, please think why this is so? Please do not twist this statement as meaning that I mean we need unhealthy men, but simply just more women first; then healthier women- by which I mean as healthy as men. Is it that difficult to understand? May be this link will give more ideas-http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/son-preference-leads-to-unequal-allocation/article7082763.ece

    2. B

      If there is any discrimination, it is against men and boys. It is boys who are robbed of a childhood and thrust into menial jobs, forced to work as labourers, cleaners, servants, drivers, construction workers, in lock factories, as mechanics, in restaurants, as street-vendors, at tea stalls, as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, woodcutters, rickshaw pullers, etc. How many girls work these menial and degrading jobs? Boys have to work their way up with hard labour, sacrifice, tears, sweat, and blood. They don’t have anything handed to them on a silver platter. Boys are treated worse than dogs in India.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’.

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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.”

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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.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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