Slow progress to creating a safe workplace for women
- Several athletes recently accused WFI (Wrestling Federation of India) of sexual harassment.
- The Sports Ministry wants an explanation from WFI. if WFI fails to respond, the Ministry will take action against the Federation in accordance with the rules of the National Sports Development Code, 2011.
What is the scenario of such allegations?
- According to RTI (Right to Information) data, there were 45 complaints of sexual harassment to the SAI (Sports Authority of India) between 2010 and 2020, 29 of which were against coaches.
- In some of these reported incidents, the defendants were let off leniently, with penalties consisting of transfers to a minor pay cut or pension.
- Some cases have not seen the light at the end of the tunnel, with many dragging on for years with no end in sight.
- In 2021, abuse in sports was a poll issue in Germany. In 2021, the Federal Parliament’s Sports Committee held a public hearing on emotional, physical, and sexualized violence in sports.
- It is high time that India address the matter rather than waiting for athletes to conduct rallies at Jantar Mantar to be heard.
- Even though we live in the twenty-first century and have developed the capacity to supervise robots to do our bidding, there is one area where we have fallen far short of progress – gender equality.
What Problems Do Female Athletes Face?
Budget and funding:
- Women’s sports have less fund than men’s sports, making it harder for them to compete and manage regular programmes.
Sexism on the Rise:
- Women are subjected to barrels of effervescent sexism on a regular basis, whether at work or at home. They are watched and critiqued based on how they dress and speak.
- Despite women’s attempts to campaign for their social rights, they still do not obtain the same amount of professional respect or recognition as their male counterparts, notably in the sports industry.
Inaccessible and more expensive:
- Because of lack of physical education in schools and restricted possibilities to play sports in high school and college, females have to look elsewhere for sports, which may not exist or may be more expensive.
- There is sometimes a shortage of sufficient playing facilities near their homes, making it more difficult for females to participate in sports.
Problems of Safety and Transportation:
- Sports need a location for participation, which for many girls, particularly those living in crowded metropolitan areas, means going through unsafe neighbourhoods or being unable to get to a decent facility miles away.
- And if there is not a safe option, such as carpooling with other families, a girl and her family may have less choice but to stay at home.
- Manipur, for example, is sporting powerhouse, but 48% of female athletes travel more than 10 kilometres to reach the practice facility.
Social Attitudes and Disfigurement:
- Despite recent progress, discrimination against female athletes based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity persists.
- Girls who participate in sports may face bullying, social isolation, unfavorable performance assessments, or loss of starting position.
- The dread of being labelled “gay” during socially fragile adolescence is strong enough to keep many girls out of the game.
Training of Lower Quality:
- The facilities are not as good as those used by the boys, and the playing times may not be ideal.
- Quality, qualified coaches may be scarce in their town, or these coaches may be more concentrated on the boys’ programmes, which have greater funding for training.
- Many girls’ programmes do not receive the same amount of funding as boys’ programmes, limiting their capacity to grow and enjoy the sport.
Lack of Good Role Models:
- Today’s girls are inundated with pictures of outward beauty rather than confident, powerful female athletes.
- Peer pressure may be difficult for females of any age; when that pressure is not countered with strong encouragement to participate in sports and good physical exercise, the outcomes can lead to girls dropping out entirely.
Limited media coverage:
- Women’s sports are frequently underrepresented in the media, making it difficult for female athletes to get attention and sponsorship possibilities.
Pregnancy & Maternity:
- Female athletes often experience difficulties managing parenting and their athletic careers.
- This can have an impact on female athletes’ training and competition chances.
Why is it critical that more women participate in sports?
- Physical and mental health:
- Sports can benefit both men and women’s physical and mental health.
- Females who participate in sports during their teens and early adulthood are 20% less likely to get breast cancer later in life.
- By giving women equal chances and resources in sports, we may assist to tear down the obstacles and preconceptions that restrict women’s potential and involvement in other areas of life.
- Sport, in its most basic form, promotes gender equality and encourages balanced participation (SDG goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls).
- Women who participate in sports often have better educational and career options, which can lead to greater economic empowerment.
Rectify Societal Connotations:
- Women’s engagement in sports can also serve to change cultural perceptions of women and their skills.
- Women excelling in sports can encourage more women to follow their own goals and objectives, as well as challenge misconceptions about what women are capable of.
- Women’s participation in sports can assist to improve representation of women in leadership roles such as coaching and administration.
- It can also act as motivation for young females to seek a career in athletics.
- Sports may bring people together and develop greater understanding and respect among diverse groups in society.
- We can assist to develop better and more inclusive communities by encouraging more women to participate in sports.
What are the safeguard measures for sexual harassment?
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
- Protection of Women from Sexual Harassment (POSH) Act, 2013
- Sexual Harassment electronic Box (She- Box).
- National Commission for Women (NCW)
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), 2012
About the Vishakha guidelines:
- Women’s engagement in sports has historically been minimal in India due to cultural and socioeconomic prejudices. Nonetheless, there have been recent initiatives to promote and encourage women’s engagement in sports, such as the establishment of policies to improve financing and resources for female athletes and the development of programmes to encourage girls to participate in sports from a young age.
- Notwithstanding these efforts, India still has a long way to go in terms of gender balance in sports participation and representation.
- Sports in India are still in their infancy. A comprehensive effort should be taken to increase this rate of growth. Efforts are needed to create infrastructure, discover sporting talents, organize regular sports events, and raise grassroots awareness.