It’s traditionally been an unequal playing field for women, treated as second best to their male counterparts, who received more opportunities and higher rewards for their efforts. That has begun to change. The Wimbledon is a prominent example. The All England Club, for the first time in 2007, started giving the same prize money to participants.
Eight years down, work still needs to be done. Fighting this gender inequality in India for the past four years is Dipika Pallikal.
At the Squash Rackets Federation of India’s (SRFI) Nationals in Kerala last December, Saurav Ghosal, the men’s winner, walked away with a prize of Rs 1,20,000, while the women’s champion Joshna Chinappa pocketed only Rs 50,000.
Dipika, India’s top-ranked player in the sport, has not participated in the Nationals for the past four years because of the unequal prize money on offer. Things haven’t changed and the SRFI seem to be oblivious to the discrimination.
“I have no clue as to why they are not changing it when everything in our country is changing. Women in the country are doing really well so why can’t we garner equal respect and prize money,” asked Dipika.
The 24-year-old from Chennai last played the Nationals in 2011, when she won her first and only title till date.
“I have always said it is not about the money. It is about the respect you have towards women. We train equally hard as men. We put in a lot of time and effort just like they do,” said the world No 17.
So will she continue to stay away from the Nationals? “Hopefully, the people concerned will look into it. There is not much I can do… self-respect is really important. I am not going give in to anything, and until we get the respect I will not be playing the Nationals.”
Attempts to contact SRFI officials for comments proved unsuccessful.