A report on the way forward for women’s cricket in India has debunked the main argument against equal pay, that economic forces work against raising salaries and prize money in the sport, saying that burden should be taken away from the players, and placed on the administrators.
The report, titled An Equal Hue – The Way Forward for the Women in Blue was authored by Wisden India editor-at-large Karunya Keshav, along with Snehal Pradhan, the former India international and commentator, and Sidhanta Patnaik, who co-authored The Fire Burns Blue with Karunya, and was prepared in collaboration with The Sports Law and Policy Centre, Bengaluru. It charts the various challenges facing women’s cricket in India and suggests recommendations towards bettering the sport.
Equal pay has long been a topic of much debate in cricket, and sport in general. In 2018, India Women cricketers got a raise on annual BCCI contracts to become the best paid among their counterparts in the world, but even after that, India’s lowest-paid male international cricketer earned twice as much as the highest-paid female player. The inequalities run deeper, with the situation in domestic cricket even worse.
The report argues that by citing economic factors, such as that ‘women’s matches don’t bring in as much revenue’ or that they ‘don’t attract the same level of sponsors’ as an argument against equal pay, “the burden of getting fans and sponsors and revenue” is placed on the players instead of those “marketing the sport”.
The report states: “The main arguments against equal pay […] are all factors of historic under-representation and under-funding for the women’s game. The justifications used to pay women less are those missteps from administrators that have kept women as second citizens in the sport.
“Female sportspersons, already being penalised for historic wrongs, are thus doubly penalised by poor pay at present. A movement towards equal pay will shift the onus back onto administrators to market the sport, build long-term sustainability and increase accountability in its development all around.”
Growth can also be achieved by marketing the sport well. We don’t have to tinker with rules or the very fabric of the game to attract an audience.
— Shikha Pandey (@shikhashauny) June 27, 2020
In its recommendations towards, the report said the BCCI and state associations should implement annual retainers for all players under their aegis, with the board setting the minimum amount of pay, while also calling for a commitment to “equal base pay” including parity in match fees and travel allowances across gender.
The report also said efforts should be increased towards equal prize money and participation fees, as well as renegotiation of the media rights share, the present distribution of which, it said, sidelines women players.
Providing financial literacy for players and employment in off seasons was also in the report’s recommendations.
The full report can be read here.