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What’s Unfair If Women Cricketers Ask For Pay Parity?

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Rewind to January 2020. Smriti Mandhana, India’s talismanic opener and batting mainstay, was asked about pay parity for male and female cricketers. Her response? That it was “unfair” to ask for equal pay since most of the revenue came from the men’s game.

This, coming from a woman who had just won the ICC’s woman cricketer of the year award, who had consistently been ranked number 1 in ODIs, and who is described as the Virat Kohli of the women’s game!

To put things into perspective, the highest contract given by the BCCI to women cricketers, the grade A contact, has a pay of ₹50 lakhs a year. Which is equal to the pay of a male cricketer – in the lowest C grade contract, that is! The highest contract for men is a whopping ₹7 crore, by comparison.

As a result, we have, in Harmanpreet Kaur, a captain who has led the team to the finals of a world cup and has played a 100 T20Is for the country, and in Smriti, a woman ranked number 1 by the ICC earning the same amount as a Shardul Thakur (who was, at that point of time, in the squad merely as a backup pacer), a Manish Pandey (who has mostly been warming the benches), or a Kedar Jadhav (who isn’t even being picked in the squads any longer!). Fair play, eh?

And now, a year after Smriti sought to justify the BCCI with the revenue argument, the BCCI has shown, yet again, how little the women’s team means to it. Indian women will take to the field on the 7th after an entire year on the sidelines and six months after most women’s teams took to the playing field again!

Going back to what Smriti said, is it really unfair to ask that female cricketers be paid equally for doing the exact same work, putting in the exact same effort and winning exactly as much as their male counterparts?

Why should the cricketers worry about the revenue – isn’t that the marketing and advertising departments’ job? If the cricket officials truly cared for the women’s game, they would have sought ways to increase interest in the women’s game. Revenue has to be created and earned – it doesn’t come from wishing.

Tennis has had separate men’s and women’s tours for decades now. They don’t seem to be grappling with revenue issues! Cricket Australia already pay their women cricketers the same amount as men. But you’re telling me that the BCCI, with its stashes and stashes of wealth, is unable to?

When the youngsters of the men’s game fail to put in good performances, the captains, coaches, and cricket officials rush to tell us that we ought “back our youngsters”. But when 16-year-olds are breaking records in the women’s game, we back these youngsters by giving them minimal game time.

India even resumed its domestic men’s tournaments before it took the time and the energy to get its women’s international players a game! By the time Indian women get back to action on the 7th, the men’s team will have played 8 tests, 3 T20Is and 3 ODIs, while the domestic players will have been through the entire SMAT from start to finish and will be well into the knockouts of the Vijay Hazare cup. It shows clearly where the priorities lie, right?

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Do you know who is the captain of the Indian Women's cricket team?

The ECB and CA have, for years now, had women’s equivalents for their marquee tournaments – namely, the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia and the Women’s T20 Blast in England, and more recently, the Women’s Hundred.

But India, which practically invented the franchise cricket system with the IPL, has waited 14 years and yet always says, stay, not yet, when asked for a Women’s IPL. And to save face, over the past three years, India has taken to organising a sham of a tournament as an “experiment” – the Women’s T20 Challenge.

And strange to say, while ads inundate our TV screens as far as a month before the IPL even begins, I personally haven’t seen a single ad of the Women’s T20 Challenge on TV. Oh well, perhaps I blinked and missed it. Yet, the tournament is hailed as the Women’s IPL. Perhaps somebody could explain to me why or how a 4 game long tournament, completed obscurely like some hush-hush issue, is comparable to the 50-odd game extravaganza of the IPL!

The saying that you have to work twice as hard to get half as far certainly seems appropriate for India’s women’s team.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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, 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.

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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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