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Speakers: Promoting women in sports key to fight discrimination

  • Published at 12:23 am July 26th, 2021
women sports

The panelists from the webinar  ‘Women In Sport - Challenges And Wins’ discussed about the insurmountable struggle as female sports persons in this part of the world where poverty and taboos along with many other obstacles create innumerous impediment for girls

Promoting women sports in South Asia is not only paramount to inspire girls in this part of the world but it will also play the key role to annihilated all sorts of discrimination of the societies, said the prominent sports people through a virtual discussion. 

South Asia Peace Action Network (SAPAN) arranged a webinar, titled as ‘Women In Sport - Challenges And Wins’ on Sunday when star female athletes and organizers along with renowned activists and journalists took part in a lively discussion. 

The panelists discussed about the insurmountable struggle as female sports persons in this part of the world where poverty and taboos along with many other obstacles create innumerous impediment for girls. 

Mabia Akhter Shimanto of Bangladesh, the gold medalist of 2016 South Asia games, described how she has been struggling as a weightlifter. 

"Sport was a God-gifted power. When I was a child, I always wanted to play sports but back then I had to fight to be included in the traditionally “boys” sports. And even now, I have to fight to get selected,” said Shimanto. 

The 21-year old star athlete also told that she has to wear extra dresses as a girl to avoid the wrath of men while performing although it creates disadvantage as a lifter. 

However, she also told that her father was the biggest inspiration for her as he always supported him. After many years Shimanto came to know that her father faces the bullying of society as many told him that his daughter is doing ‘obscene’ things by becoming a weightlifter.

Below is the full event, link embed from SAPAN Facebook page: 

Ashreen Mridha, national basketball player of Bangladesh and a sports organizer echoed the sentiment of Mabia as she believes the support from family is most crucial for a girl to thrive in sports. 

"To get a girl into sports, everyone has a role to play not just federations and sports bodies. Even our friends, our families, our uncles, aunts, brothers... I think the men in our families too have to speak up for us. Gender inequality is not just a women's problem to solve,” said Mridha. 

Ashreen has been a lifelong inspiration for many and Bangladesh Cricket Team’s captain Rumana Ahmed also believes they are carrying the game although they receive very little incentive comparing to their male colleague in the cricket-frenzy nation. 

“We used to struggle as we did not get salaries. After our Asia Cup win we could fetch some spotlight. But still we are not getting enough sponsors. However, we are trying to carry forward the country’s game and inspire myriads of women, “said Rumana. 

Rumana was player of the match when Bangladesh beat India in the final of 2018 Asia Cup to clinch the first ever supremacy in the continental tournament in men or women category and she was also part of the team that won silver medal in 2010 Asia Cup. 

Champa Chakma was Rumana’s teammate on the silver winning campaign and she also shared her struggle as a woman hailed from remote hilly areas of the country during the webinar. 

Apart from these Bangladeshi star performers,  Sana Mir, former captain of the Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team; activist and former netball player Caryll Tozer of Sri Lanka; former captain of Afghanistan Women’s National Football team Khalida Popal, award-winning Indian swimmer Nisha Millet; Nepali tennis player Preety Baral, award winning para-athletics champion of India  Gulshan Naaz also took part in the discussion among others.

All these athletes have shared the stories from their life about what type of challenges and hardships they have faced to become successful in sports arena.

All the athletes were introduced and the programme was moderated by sports journalist Natasha Raheel Khan from Karachi and activist Payoshni Mitra, former badminton player from India currently living in London.

The event was partnered with South Asian Women in the Media (SAWM), a network of women journalists across the region.

SAPAN, established cooperatively on 28 March 2021, is a coalition of individuals and organisations joining hands to take forward the principles and ideals of peace, justice, democracy and human rights.