Gender Parity in Sports: Cricket in 2023

In 2022, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the most influential cricket governing body announced gender parity for cricketers in India following New Zealand.

The year 2023 has been even more encouraging for women in cricket. The inaugural edition of the Women’s Indian Premier League (WIPL) in March 2023 concluded with Mumbai Indians crowned champions, although it has taken 15 long years for the glass ceiling to be broken by women cricketers in India after the men’s IPL began in 2008.

In a historic decision, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced in July 2023 that men’s and women’s cricketers competing at ICC global events like the Cricket World Cup, T20 World Cup, and U-19 World Cups will now be rewarded equally. This is a significant step in the empowerment and promotion of the women’s game which has seen record viewership and an increase in eyeballs in the last couple of years.

And now, South Africa has become the third country after India and New Zealand to provide equal pay across genders, after they announced their male and female cricketers would receive the same match fees for international matches. They have also unveiled the Professional Women’s Cricket League on similar lines to Women’s IPL by BCCI.

While these are significant steps in reducing the gender gap in sports, we have still a long way to go to achieve gender parity in the true sense. More number of matches should be played at all levels, and access to quality infrastructure at the domestic level is required to sustain the momentum. 

Challenges in achieving gender parity in sports

Just like any other field, sports are no exception to the gender divide in terms of lower representation of women as well as the gender pay gap. It takes decades of incremental steps in the right direction to overcome resistance from established misogynistic powers that are skeptical of gender equality.

Like any other sport, girls and women in cricket face specific challenges in achieving equality:

  • Unequal pay
  • Limited access to facilities and equipment
  • Lack of role models and mentors
  • Negative stereotypes about female athletes
  • Instances of sexual harassment and abuse
  • Less popular than men’s sports culminating in lesser media coverage and lower commercial viability

Pay parity is a positive step towards gender equality in cricket. It is a way to ensure that women’s cricket is given the same level of respect and support as men’s cricket. It is also a way to encourage more girls and women to play cricket and to give them the opportunity to pursue a career in the sport.

However, some pivotal actions are required to further gender equity in sports:

  • Greater representation of women in sports governing bodies
  • Investment in programs fostering girls’ and women’s sports
  • Amplification of media coverage dedicated to women’s sports
  • Elimination of gender-based pay disparities in sports
  • Cultivation of an inclusive sports culture embracing girls and women

The opportunities for girls and women in sports are endless. There are more opportunities for girls and women to play sports than ever before, and there are more female athletes achieving success at all levels. The future of girls’ and women’s sports is bright, and it is possible to achieve gender equity in sports.

Useful Reads

  1. Staurowsky, E. J., Watanabe, N., Cooper, J., Cooky, C., Lough, N., Paule-Koba, A., … & Snyder, M. (2020). Chasing Equity: The Triumphs, Challenges, and Opportunities in Sports for Girls and Women. Women’s Sports Foundation.

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