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Leave Gender Behind – What Women in Cricket and Navy Have in Common2 min read

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What could be more fun than watching a group of men cheerleading in costumes, dancing over a Bollywood number for an all women’s cricket match? The only thing missing from women’s T20 Challenge held recently in Jaipur were these cheerleading men.

If you think it’s a joke, hear me out. Do you know what happens when a 15-year-old girl from Haryana plays the T20 Challenge in the country? It reveals possibilities. It shows thousands of other girls that not only is this dream possible, it is also achievable at the tender age of fifteen.

That’s precisely what happened in Jaipur where Shafali Varma, a 15-year-old batter from Haryana made 34 off 31 balls as the crowd of men, women and children erupted for her. The huge crowds might just pave the way for a women’s IPL in the near future, but for now, what I see is possibilities.

Last year, Mattel the creators of Barbie introduced the robotics engineer Barbie so that little girls can aspire to this choice of career and widen their horizons beyond birthdays, parties, bubble baths and boyfriends like Ken.

To add to these, the first all-women Indian Navy crew set out on a sea voyage in September 2017 to circumnavigate the world and returned in May last year. On being asked, how they trained for the journey, one of the crew members responded that her captain had told her at the outset to leave her gender behind. And that’s precisely what each of the six members did.

Think about it. When that cricket ball crosses the boundary for a six and the stadium erupts in applause, does it really matter whether the batter was a man or a woman? And when you are out there in the sea, in the face of the biggest wave that could topple your ship, being a man or a woman is of no consequence.

And with all this, I wonder about that boy who wishes to dance his heart out in the middle of a cricket stadium and dress not according to gender but by what he wants to wear because really, when you are dancing your heart out, does it really matter if you are a boy or a girl?


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And why limit this idea to a cricket field or to the sea? Why not bring it at home and to your workplace? We don’t have to wait for a woman’s IPL to cheer for them. Be the cheering squad for the woman next to you. A little support goes a long way. Pull up instead of pushing down. It’s okay if you haven’t done it so far. Start today.

And if you have walked on your path alone, remove the boulders as you go along so that it’s easier for the next woman to follow. The six women who set out on that sea voyage not only crossed an ocean of possibilities but built a bridge as they went along for a 5-year-old girl somewhere out there, watching them. The girl knows that this dream can be realised just as much as a boy who gets inspired by the robotics engineer Barbie because why assume that only girls play with dolls.

Imagine the ripple effect. Reporters have been forced to find another word for ‘batsman’ and have replaced it with ‘batter’ if it’s a woman trailblazing on the field. They could have gone a step ahead and called everyone batter instead of this distinction.

But for now, I am waiting for that all-women space voyage that NASA had to cancel because the right size of that spacesuit wasn’t available for one of the two women going on that mission.

Let’s hit the ball out of the stadium for that one.

Roopal Kewalya is the Penguin author of the book THE LITTLE RAINMAKER. She believes that stories reveal possibilities and lives to share them through screenwriting, filmmaking and performances.

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