BBC research: Indians favour equal pay for women athletes

Thirty-eight percent of Indians believe sports featuring women weren’t as entertaining as those featuring men.

Indian players walk off the ground after their loss to Australia in the Women's T20 World Cup final match in Melbourne. Only 34 percent of Indians consume any news related to women’s sport.   -  AP

An overwhelming majority of Indians say women athletes should receive equal pay as men, but 38 percent believe sports featuring women weren’t as entertaining as those featuring men, according to a BBC research.

The research, based on answers received from 10,181 respondents from 14 Indian States, showed three-quarters of Indians thought sport was important in their lives but just 36 percent participated in any kind of sport or physical activity. It also said 42 percent of men said they played sport compared to 29 percent of women.

People in the 15-24 age bracket played the most sport, and the research showed those who were unmarried were also more likely to take part in sports. Fifty-four percent of those unmarried play sports compared to 30 percent of those who are married for divorced.

Forty-one percent of people believe sportswomen were as good as their male counterparts. But a third of the Indians surveyed believed sportswomen were not as good.

Among the respondents, 37 percent said female athletes weren’t feminine enough and many felt it wasn’t safe for women to play, while 29 percent believe women were not strong enough to play sport.

Old stereotypes

“Our research shows attitudes towards women and women’s sports in India are complex, contradictory and counter-intuitive. The research project shows that real progress has been made in terms of attitudes towards women and women’s sports yet some age old stereotypes retain a hold on the imagination,” Santanu Chakrabarti, the Head of Audience Research for the BBC World Service, said.

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“It shows that the idea of gender equality has become quite commonplace amongst the Indian population, even if this doesn’t always match with other views held. Most fascinating are the differences across the States, where attitudes sometimes conform to but more often than not completely upturn what people may expect,” he added.

Both men and women agreed that sports were important to them. Yet, there were some sports which some people deem ‘not suitable’ for women, such as boxing, weightlifting, wresting, kabaddi and motorsports. There was a larger gender difference in cricket, with only 15 percent of Indian women playing it, as compared to 25 percent men. However, there was little disparity when it came to kabaddi, with 15 percent men and 11 percent women taking part in it.

Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra were the ‘sportiest’ states of India, according to the research.

When it came to women’s sports, only 34 percent of India’s population consumed any news about it, with only 18 percent claiming to have watched women’s sports in person. The equivalent figure for men’s sports is 24.

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