In a groundbreaking decision to remove gender disparity, the Table Tennis Federation of India's three-member Committee of Administrators determined on Thursday that women and girl players in all tournaments and competitions will get equal compensation, awards, and prize money as their male counterparts.
The committee voiced grave concern over the unfair treatment of female and girl table tennis players in terms of prize money and payments.
"This is disconcerting because the effort needed, proficiency and skills required as well as the level of competition in a girls' game, is in no way lesser than that exhibited in a men's or boys' game," said the five-page order.
The Committee of Administrators is chaired by Chief Justice (retd) Geeta Mittal. The decision was prompted by the 83rd Senior National Table Tennis Championship, which was recently held in Shillong, and the wide disparity in payments in the singles categories.
It is commonly believed that sports reflect society. Even inside athletics, the inequality that exists in society in terms of equal pay and awards for men and women has remained.
"But this doesn't make it any less egregious. In fact, it is more so because the fundamental essence of all sport is fair-play, fairness in action, equality of access, and of opportunity. This is an attempt by the Committee to ensure equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunity and equal recognition for our women players," observed Chandigarh-based renowned lawyer Mittal, who signed the order.
According to the CoA, there is no explanation for the blatant gender gap that exists and continues to exist in terms of compensation, prize money, and accolades given to women and girl players.
It is a well-known truth that women and girl players are equally skilled and capable at all levels of the sports as men and boy players, and that they are wrongfully denied equal opportunity and compensation." The absence of parity in compensation for male and female athletes in India is a clear breach of the concept of equality enshrined in the Indian Constitution's Articles 14, 15, 16 (2), and 39 (a) (among others), as well as the Code on Wages.
"Equal pay is crucial not only to improve the visibility of women in sports but to also steer the narrative around equality within sports," it said, adding the discrimination "is also against the letter and spirit of India's obligations under the international instruments".