(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Women Participation in Sports

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Women Participation in Sports


Women Participation in Sports


The sports scenario for women started changing when P.T. Usha emerged on the sports era as one of the greatest athlete the country has ever produced Her magical performances drew the attention of not only the citizens, but of media and the Government as well. Her 102 medals won at national and international tournaments created a sensation in the country and motivated generation of young women athletes. The win of Karnam Malleswori, the first Indian women who won a bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in women’s 69 kg category in weightlifting, started the illustrious journey of women in Olympics.

Policies and Programmes to Promote Sports

  • In 1954, the Indian government took its first step to promote sports by creating the All India Council of Sports (AICS). The AICS acted as an advisory body, informing the government on numerous areas including national sports policies, government funding of national sport governing bodies, and the coaching of elite athletes.
  • The next significant policy initiative came in 1982, when a specific government department for sport, the Ministry of Sport (now the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport, MYAS), was established. 
  • In 1984, India introduced its first ever National Sports Policy. 
  • After these initial steps from 1954 to 1986, in 2001 national sports policy was introduced with a dual aim of mass participation in sport and excellence at the elite level. National Sports Development Code of India 2011, aimed to implement new strategies to achieve objectives set by the previous policies.

At present, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is running the following schemes to promote sports in the country, including rural, tribal and backward areas: -
(i) Khelo India Scheme; 

(ii) Assistance to National Sports Federations; 

(iii) Special Awards to Winners in International sports events and their Coaches; 

(iv) National Sports Awards, Pension to Meritorious Sports Persons; 

(v) Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay National Sports Welfare Fund; 

(vi) National Sports Development Fund; and

(vii) Running Sports Training Centres through Sports Authority of India.

  • To promote fitness as easy, fun and free activity.
  • To spread awareness on fitness and various physical activities that promote fitness through focused campaigns.
  • To encourage indigenous sports.
  • To make fitness reach every school, college/university, panchayat/village, etc.
  • To create a platform for citizens of India to share information, drive awareness and
    encourage sharing of personal fitness stories.

Challenges for Women in Sports:

1. Socio-cultural issues: 

  • Herbert Spencer in 1894 in his book ‘Education, Intellectual, Moral and Physical’, described the way physical education was looked at in a girls and boys school in his times. He describes the boys playground as an “open gravelled space with ample room for sports and exercises”, while the girls school playground had laid out “grim grass plots, gravel walk, shrubs and flowers, with absolutely no chance for any physical recreation”. Spencer, points out that the cause behind this variance is the way society distinct the role of a woman and how sports was perceived to diminish a feminine exterior. He stated, “Women developing a robust physique is undesirable, and rude health and abundant figure are considered plebeian”. What was true in 1894, paradoxically is still the perception of majority in 21th century India.
  • There are certain roles, responsibilities and expectations from the women in the society, they are supposed to play an important role in keeping family traditions, raising children, sacrificing their career for family etc. Moreover, participation in sports require a healthy and nutritious diet which is missing in Indian families. Due to limited means, the diet of girls and women is the last priority, even though, wholesome and nourishing diet is the most crucial component for sports.
  • Further, from being belittled by the biased societal view to facing a huge gender pay gap, women players have always been victims of narrow-minded attitude. Still the country has seen the rise of many female sports players in India like Karnam Malleshwari, Mary Kom, Phogat sisters, Mirabai Chanu and P.V. Sindhu, which reflects that this stereotype is definitely changing. Sports play a greater role in abolishing gender discrimination and providing women their right place in the society.

2. Access to Facilities and Safety Issues:

  • Currently India houses approximately 100 sports facilities fulfilling international
    standards of sports infrastructure. In addition, there are government-owned college and university grounds, community centres, sporting facilities and grounds owned by urban local bodies, grounds owned by Resident Welfare Associations, and facilities owned by private entities. These facilities are largely neglected and ignored in terms of utilisation and maintenance. Also, a majority of the Indian sports infrastructure facilities are mainly used for hosting international, national, state and district-level games.
  • There cannot be increased participation of women and girls if they do not get proper access to the necessary facilities. Further, there is a general consensus that lack of security is the biggest problem for a female player. Parents do not feel comfortable in sending their daughters to participate in events outside their hometown. Hence, the girl players miss out on vital exposure and opportunities to experience competitive sports. There is also fear that the studies and academic performance would get neglected.

3. Lack of Systemic Interventions and Resources:

  • It’s a general perception that Indian athletes who have achieved international success are exceptions rather than products of the country’s sports system. This is more relevant in case of women athletes. Although, there are schemes and endowments for athletes that guarantee a basic minimum standard of living, but it has not been much effective. The challenge is not the lack of talent or capacity for India to produce great women sportspersons, it is the complications related with bringing in coaches and training persons in rural and tribal areas and providing young athletes with the resources and support they need. 
  • The sports federations of India need to act more proactively in terms of providing better infrastructure, coaching facilities and transparent system of selection purely on basis of merit to promote sports culture in India. In this context, interventions like Khelo India becomes more important which have comprehensive approach and has been introduced to revive the sports culture in the country at the grassroot level by building a strong framework for all sports played in our country.

4. Lack of Awareness Among the Masses: 

  • The problem in India is not only the lack of resources or talent, but much more fundamental. In order to promote sports at grassroot level, we really needs to focus on changing attitudes and convictions in our communities about playing sports and finding local role models, initiate intensive mass awareness campaigns about the various myths and prejudices surrounding sports and what girls can achieve through it.
  • Further, an exchange of ideas is important on the changing roles and perception of women in our society, and we need to provide safe public spaces for girls to play. As we know the path to becoming a doctor, we also need to have a more transparent, reliable and financially feasible path carved out to become professional athletes. Participation in sport can be an invigorating and empowering experience for women. Being an athlete, especially a skilled athlete, can make her feel physically stronger, more competent, and more in control of her life as an independent individual.

Way Forward and Conclusion

  • Sports in India is in the process of development. To accelerate this rate of development, holistic approach should be adopted. Efforts are required in developing infrastructure, identifying sports talents, organising regular sports events, and generating awareness at the grass root level. These steps will surely play an instrumental role in augmenting the resources and enhancing capacities of athletes.
  • Further, to develop sports at the grassroots level, it is imperative to integrate sports with education as envisaged in NEP-2020. NEP-2020 promotes multi disciplinarity and a
    holistic education across the sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, and sports in order to ensure the unity and integrity of all knowledge.
  • _ It emphasises on no hard separations between arts and sciences, between curricular and extracurricular activities, between vocational and academic streams, etc. in order to eliminate harmful hierarchies among, and silos between different areas of learning.



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Courtesy: Kurukshetra