Pay Equity Policy: It took blood, sweat and tears for women’s cricket to get here
India-W were the winners of the Women's Asia Cup 2022
BCCI Secretary Jay Shah, in a historical moment in women’s cricket, announced the implementation of ‘Pay Equity Policy’. A policy where the board committed itself to pay equal match fees to men and women cricketers.
I’m sure women cricketers everywhere in the country must have breathed a sigh of relief, maybe something more than a sigh of relief. It took blood, sweat and tears for women’s cricket to get here.
It took a long time, but we’re here nonetheless. And all praise goes out to the BCCI for actually taking steps to eliminate discrimination in the widely male dominated field.
Its the past talking
All these years, women have put in the equal amount of effort, despite society, despite misogyny, despite not being paid enough; living in poverty and living in silence. All the achievements and endeavours going unheard. Every sucker punch was another unnoticed dent in the wall of the hallway that the world walked.
All while also upholding the societal expectations of what a woman should be. Being a wife, birthing a child, being one of the greatest cricketers but only for a handful of people to know.
Women’s cricket lacked the basic necessities, no indication of gender sensitisation or maternity benefits, minimal pay, no broadcasting, having to work extra jobs to ensure financial stability, having to wear men’s hand-me-down jerseys, minimal domestic fixtures, an incredible lack of practice infrastructure; it is a shame how long this list goes on.
The Great War
Historically, cricket originated in an attempt to create national identities by conditioning masculine identity, at the exclusion of women. The rigid gender roles, in every sense, prohibited women from including themselves in the sport. The gender bias was born with the game.
A sort of vicious cycle persisted in the sphere, broadcasters, media, associations and the board itself took very little interest in women’s cricket as compared to men’s cricket. Which in turn overshadowed the existence of the sport.
If the public isn’t aware of the existence of women’s cricket and if money isn’t pushed into its economy, how will it ever flourish? The isolated development of the sport is evidence enough for it. It takes something else to survive in women’s cricket. To be a woman cricketer meant having an underground battle for decades and decades.
Development starts from the grassroots. If we look at the development of men’s cricket, it is quite evident that the massive success was an indirect result of the amount of facilities that they had at the domestic level. With an increase in competition, came an increase in quality of the game, and with the increase of quality, came the increase in viewership. There is a reason why crowds show up to watch quality teams battle it out in huge numbers.
The same pragmatic approach needs to be pushed in women’s cricket. You cannot expect a pond to turn into a river without carving a canal for it. And development needs money, and this particular policy will encourage women and young girls in large numbers to take up the sport, no longer will they have to worry about financial stability. As women’s participation in the game increases, competition, quality and ultimately the success of the game will follow.
Women’s cricket has come a long long way, and this will only take it further. Commercial success of the sport is not very far. As facilities and pay increases, so will the viewership.
Keep your egos from swinging
Change has come, a long overdue change. But with the humongous amount of support that women’s cricket has received come people who cannot, for the love of god, watch anything good happen to women’s cricket. Suddenly, all the logic and practical thinking came flooding in that had disappeared when women cricketers were living in poverty and had no equipment or infrastructure.
Change, transformational change, is never about revenue or payment. It is about aiding and inspiring. Unlike some, change is not shallow, change is not primitive. This change is generational, this decision is not facile or ignorant enough to not take into consideration centuries of mistreatment and prejudices.
This decision is bigger than money, it is about changing lives, it is about investing in the future, it is about being the wind to someone’s flight, it is about evolution and directional social change.
BCCI was brave enough to take everything to their temple, as if it was their own wound.
To BCCI, women cricketers all over the country will remember you for answering a solemn prayer for decades to come and to everyone that has a problem: stay outraged.