'Decision of equal pay a huge milestone in Indian women's cricket' – Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami at HT Leadership Summit
HTLS 2022: Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami have welcomed the BCCI's landmark decision of equal match fee for centrally contracted men and women cricketers and believe that the historic move will not only bring more females into the game.
Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, the two pioneers of Indian women's cricket, have welcomed the BCCI's landmark decision of equal match fee for centrally contracted men and women cricketers and believe that the historic move will not only bring more females into the game but also go a long way in shattering barriers in regards to how women's cricket is perceived in India. Last month, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, (BCCI) ended the long-existing 'pay parity' debate by announcing that all its women and men cricketers falling under the central contract will be financially acknowledged without any bias. And even though Mithali had earlier hailed the decision on Twitter, the former India captain, during a discussion at the 20th edition of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, explained in detail how the ground-breaking decision will open more avenues for women's cricket in India.
"I think it's a huge step. I have said in numerous interviews for the past two days. It's like a milestone in Indian women's cricket and also globally. As many know that from where Women cricketers come and it has evolved into a sport now where there are so many talented players coming up. The team has been doing well in the last 4-5 years. Since 2017, many of you have become part of the fan base of women's cricket. Globally also the women's cricket has gained popularity. There is a huge growth. So, I think it has come at the right time and if we aim to see women's cricket come to the level of men's cricket, this is the step in that direction," Mithali said.
Mithali, who in June this year, brought the curtains down on a storied 20-year-long career by announcing her retirement from international cricket, is aware of the obstacles a girl has to face, especially those wanting to pursue a career in sports and in her case, the most popular of them all – cricket. For decades, women cricketers in India struggled to receive the same treatment as their men counterparts, often having no option but to fall back on government jobs to make ends meet; but following the path-breaking decision, Mithali is confident that life for an aspiring woman cricketer will take a turn for the better.
"In terms of young girls who are looking to take up cricket as a profession, for their parents, this gives confidence and it shows faith that this career option can be a sustainable one where a girl who is passionate playing cricket, can aim to spend all her energy, time into turning this profession as a career and not necessarily have to go in search of jobs, tomorrow. By having the same match fees, it's in a way saying that this sport can sustain you, you can look after your family, you can invest into your own training in terms of resources and facilities. So, I think overall, it's a huge step in the right direction," she added.
Jhulan, whose enjoyed a fairy-tale ending to her career with India women winning their maiden limited-overs series in England in September, agreed with her former captain. Pointing out the stereotypical struggles a young girl, wanting to fulfil her dream of becoming a sportsperson in India, faces, Jhulan expressed confidence in the landmark decision triggering a shift of mindset among the Indian public.
"Well, what she (Mithali) said, definitely I am not going to say same thing. But I will say in other way. I feel that this movement will have lot of impact in our society because we come from such backgrounds. Sports has always been a secondary, as a girl child. Now people will start thinking in a different way that people will start to say that you go and play any kind of sport, any kind of event, just go and play. This is a small step towards gender equality. And the second thing in India, lot of other events are going on, but unfortunately in all these events, the counterparts don't get same number of facilities.
"Fortunately, we get that kind of good facilities. Yes, pay scale will now start. But in terms of facilities, other women team didn't get that kind of facilities. Probably this decision that BCCI has taken, it will give all other federation to give them same amount of respect and same amount of facility. It will help Indian sporting culture. I think it's a good step and definitely, much thanks to BCCI and all of them. This talk was going on since long time. Both of us had done lot of conversations but definitely, it takes time and this is the right time," she added.