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Posted at: Apr 17, 2018, 2:18 AM; last updated: Apr 17, 2018, 2:18 AM (IST)

Women power India’s gold quest

Win 12 out of 26 gold won by India; the show will inspire many girls to take up sport and become heroes

Rohit Mahajan

Tribune News Service

gold coast, april 16

Commonwealth Games 2018 had an equal number of medals for men and women — 275 sets of medals in all, of which 133 each were presented to men and women. The remaining 9 were presented to the winners of mixed-team events. 

Some people didn’t like it, and they did have a point: They say that the men’s events are much tougher than the women’s events. For instance, Mary Kom was assured of a medal after winning merely one bout — her boxing division, 49kg, had only 5 contestants.  How can Mary Kom be assured of a medal by winning merely one bout, while the men must win at least three bouts to earn a medal, they asked.

No equality

For the two genders, there’s no equality in sport; women’s events exist only to protect women, not men. The women’s categories were created to make sure that women too become champions. If only ‘open’ categories existed, there would be no women champions. 

The differences in the genders, it must be noted, are based on biology and societal roles, apart from physical strength. Plato posited that the genders are equal except for the difference in their physical strengths — just the way male and female dogs, despite a difference in physical strength, are able to do an equal job.

Man-made

There was a time when all sporting stars were male — the women existed merely to provide moral or logistical sport.  If we forget jingoism and flag-waving, the really important role of sport is to create a healthy society which puts a lesser burden on medical facilities. There’s no reason to deny women the opportunity to become heroines; this opportunity was previously available to only men. This has changed over the last few decades, but much needs to be done.

Magical Manu

Manu Bhaker won a gold medal here, shooting without fear. She could take up shooting only due to the support of her parents. The ‘society’ continues to place hurdles in the way of women sportspersons.

Just look at India’s women medallists from CWG 2018 —Saina Nehwal, Mirabai Chanu, Sanjita Chanu, Mary Kom, etc could win the gold only due to extreme hard work, and support from family or friends. If their families had been dead set against them playing sport, they would never have played.

Role of sport

Sport builds the pride of nations. The role of building this pride of nations was limited only to men earlier — only the men could go to war and become heroes, or go to sporting contests and become heroes.

For the sake of an equitable society, sport must embrace equality, too. “It’s great that an equal number of medals were given to male and female athletes at CWG 2018,” said Anjum Moudgil, winner of silver here. “Girls must have role medals too,” she said.  “Sport is about keeping fit, and also about earning glory for your country!”

Indeed, there’s no reason that half the population of a country should be kept out of the business of earning glory for the country, and making a career of their own in sport.

“It does not make any sense,” says Neeraj Chopra, the new CWG javelin throw champion. “Girls are equal to men, and they can do the jobs men are doing. Yes, they cannot fight and beat men, but they too must get the opportunity to excel in sport.”

We asked Vinesh Phogat what she thought of the matter. There was no uncertainly in her voice when she said that women heroes are needed not merely in sport but in every aspect of our lives. “In our societies, if a girl goes out for work or for shopping, men bother her,” she says. “The society needs to change. Apart from harassment, it’s very important that we should create women role models who are able to lead them to a healthy and less medicine-oriented lives.” For that to happen, women must take up sport — 12 of India’s gold were won by women, and one was earned by a team with men and women. Women were equal participants in the creation of pride of India in CWG nations; but it’s not an issue about national pride or jingoism — it’s about giving the girl child an equal opportunity become a sports star and icon. This is the reason sport for women is key.

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