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16 March 2016
Due Credit withheld: Indian Women Cricketers
The neglect of women hockey by authorities was shown in blockbuster Hindi movie- Chek De India. Is this apathy spread in sports? Some might argue it was just a movie, and women in India are empowered. Is this women empowerment in sports reflected even by leading Indian newspapers? Take a clue from cricket- men & women are playing World Cup T20 in India. Of the scanned 16 newspapers, only one newspaper- Indian Express has carried an editorial on women cricketers- “The other World Cup” and mentions- “..No one loves women’s cricket, it seems. Many aren’t even aware that such a thing as the women’s world T20 exists and is being held simultaneously with the men’s game. It will take time for perceptions to change…The perceptions are changing, albeit slowly, and if Mithali’s women can perform in eye catching ways, the game’s profile will take a leap”. So, has this newspaper highlighted victory of Mithali’s women’s win in the first match on first page? Nope, further on the sports page, 24 page, the highlight is- “India make their own debacle” covering majority of space, leaving leftover space for -”Harmanpreet steps out of Mithali’s shadow, sets up a massive win”.
Yesterday, Indian men cricketers lost while Indian women won their first T20 match. Scanning of 16 leading Indian newspapers (8 English, 4 Hindi, 2 Telugu, 1 Marathi, 1 Malayalam) reveal that only one newspaper in Hindi- Hindustan has highlighted the victory of Indian women cricketers on its front page with colored photograph of captain of Indian women’s team -Mithali Raj batting against Bangladesh, and highlights her 42 run innings. Even on Sport page 19, women cricketers dominate-”Win of women team Indian on Bangladesh”. Hindi Newspaper Jansatta’s sports coverage has given equal importance to result of first encounter of Indian women & Indian men’s T20 match. However, on the rest of leading newspapers’ Sports page, Indian men dominate. This is rather alarming as role of newspapers is crucial in changing stereotypical perceptions regarding women. They would have been played a positive role of changing negative cognitive scripts by highlighting equally if not more WIN of Indian women cricketers vis-à-vis Indian men cricketer’s loss, but majority failed here. Take one example, the sports page of Pioneer carries a smiling colored photograph of correspondent who is reporting about Indian men cricketer’s match, and she is a women - Meenakshi Rao, while no correspondent from Pioneer is reporting about Indian women cricketers, and report is sourced from an agency- PTI. Such apathy!