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India’s Top Squash Player Is Boycotting The Nationals To Make A Powerful Point On Equality

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By Rishvik Chanda:

Women’s work isn’t valued as much as men’s work is – that is the conclusion to be reached if we look at the current scenario of women working in the public sphere. Equal pay for equal work between the genders is one of the primary objectives of feminism today. This issue was highlighted yet again when Dipika Pallikal, India’s top-ranked Squash player, opted out of the ongoing National Squash Championships in a strong mark of protest against discriminatory rewards for men and women in sports.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Women, on average, earn less than men across all careers. An important hurdle to overcome for feminism today is this under-paid status of women. And this isn’t just about India, according to statistics released by the White House, full-time working American women earn 77% of what their male counterparts do. Also, it has been documented that working women do more housework and child care than working men.

Sports is seen as a traditionally male dominated activity. Women generally aren’t encouraged to take up sports seriously. And the few women who do become successful sportswomen by overcoming gender roles, continue to face discrimination. Offering lower rewards to female athletes is only reinforcing the idea that women belong in domestic settings and telling the women, who train just as hard, that their achievements aren’t worth as much as that of male athletes’.

Recently, Dipika Pallikal decided to skip the ongoing National Squash Championships until equal prize money was offered for male and female athletes. The men’s champion will pocket Rs. 1,20,000 and women Rs. 50,000, less than half of what is offered to the men. Discrimination such as this implies that men deserve bigger rewards for winning sports tournaments, suggesting that men put in more effort than women. These unfair, untrue notions need to be pointed out to the wider public.

Patricia Arquette, the Boyhood actress, brought attention to the gender wage gap in Hollywood in her acceptance speech at the 87th Academy Awards. But the situation is worse closer home. In Bollywood, top female actors make only 1/10th of what top male actors make per film. “I don’t really understand why we are paid less than the male actors because we put equal efforts and recent past has shown that actresses can deliver a hit film. We deserve better pay, equal to what actors get”, says Aditi Rao Hydari, an upcoming actor.

Those women who accept lower pay for equal work are making the situation worse for others by encouraging a discriminatory system. It’s extremely unfortunate and unfair that an athlete who is ranked 18th on the World Squash Association rankings has to abstain from participation in the national tournament for the fourth year in a row to make a point, but a strong stance such as Dipika’s is what is needed to bring attention to discriminatory remuneration based on gender.

You must be to comment.
  1. B

    You are paid for your work according to your experience, academic credentials, skills, and how well you do your job. It is not a question of a man and a woman working the same job not being paid the same, even two men or two women working the same job will not be paid the same. Two doctors, two engineers, two teachers, etc, will be paid differently. Secondly, women earn less because women work less number of hours than men, take maternity leave, work easier jobs than men, and take courses in college which pay less.

  2. Jigsaw

    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.

  3. B

    Your conclusion about Bollywood actors not being paid the same as actresses is hilarious. It is not a case of Aditi Rao Haider, even male actors like Arjun Rampal, Sunny Deol, Ritesh Deshmukh are not paid the same as Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan. It has to do with TALENT. Not GENDER. If actresses are so talented, why are all newcomers dying to work with Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, and Salman Khan. There are many actresses who have a name today courtesy of male actors, who got a role with the Khans when no one knew them, and now they are famous. Salman Khan alone introduced Katrina Kaif, Sonakshi Sinha, Zarine Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Asin, Sneha Ullal, Somy Ali, just to name a few. Rani Mukherjee and Anushka Sharma got fame after working with Aamir Khan. Deepika Padukone got a dream start with Shahrukh Khan. Of course, I am missing many actresses’ names who rose to stardom after a debut with the Khans.

    1. Avinesh Saini

      It is not about talent but more about star power. the three Khan’s get the Moolah. None of the women have managed to do that till date. Back in the day, Sreedevi got almost as much as Amitabh as she was a huge star. It’s more about economics with Bollywood, with just a hint of patriarchy.

  4. udit

    Men attract more sponsors to sports, more viewers to movies GENERALLY (almost all the time.)
    By no means can a Mithali Raj play better cricket than Sachin Tendulkar or generate more fan following.

    There are definitely more Women who go to cinema to watch Ranbir, Amir, Shahrukh Salman than the number of Women ( Iam not even saying men) who go to watch Vidya, Priyanka, Deepika, Kajol etc.

    I am not being a male chauvinist, but it is what it is and i don’t even see anything wrong in it.
    If there is someone who brings in more money by their talent (men bringing more interested people and sponsors to sports) then they deserve to be paid higher.

    Having said that, IT IS WRONG TO UNDERPAY WOMEN.
    But the issue should not be comparison with Men, it should b-
    1. To determine weather or not they are being paid enough to sustain them selves with basic amenities and support being given by the association.
    and after that-
    2. Weather or not they are getting their fair share of how much crowd/sponsors they pull in to the sport.

  5. Monistaf

    In spite of the wage gap myth being busted so many times, it continues to be an issue that is on top of the feminists agenda. I applaud this woman (I have never heard of her until now) for refusing to play. She should stand up and ask for what she is worth, and if they cannot pay her, she should go elsewhere. That is what everyone else does when it comes to business as usual. If you think you are not paid what you are worth, have the courage and confidence to find another job that pays you what you think you are worth and stop whining that you are paid less. It happens all the time, to EVERYONE. What you get paid is based on your education, what you bring to the table in terms of relevant experience and most importantly your ability to negotiate a fair wage. It seems that feminists want to be privileged with a sense of entitlement that someone should just give them what they are worth. You never get what you deserve, you almost always get what you can negotiate. When it comes to paying sports personalities it is often times dependent on how much interest and money they can generate in terms of broadcast rights and ad revenues. If sportswomen generate less, they get offered less and have a lower negotiating power. Female models and pornstars get paid almost 10 times their male counterparts because of the supply and demand situation that offers a lot more negotiating powers to women. I do not see any males whining and bitching about not being paid enough!!

  6. nitin

    what if tomorrow blind crickets start rising the demand of getting same pay as normal cricketer. They may have talent and some better than other but you wouldnt pay to see them play.
    Same goes for women. Women should be glad that sport bodies allow them to play among themselves and also get paid.

    Frankly if they want they can be good in carom, chess, shooting, archery or poker(sports that dont rely much on physical strength) but they suck in them too. So I say this – if a woman

  7. पंकज कुमार गरवाल

    Comment * reading was like facing the people who are sabotaged themselves ! It reminded the pathetic situation of the oppressed in this oppressing hegemony as Marx’s take on religion. These men, misogynist indeed, are themselves stucked and helpless ! …this is evident in their support for anti-rape movements but infected by rapist culture side-by-side…

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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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