A top male athlete and ordinary women in Afghanistan are this week’s Friday Feminists
It hasn’t been a very good week, has it? All the shouting and mud-slinging and unreal promises that are a part of the Great Indian Tamasha, err, Assembly Elections, reached fever pitch in Delhi. And that great Indian right – Freedom of Speech – was sacrificed yet again at the altar of the greatest Indian pastime – Right to Take Offence, as a novel comedy act in Mumbai was deemed “vulgar” and “offensive”. Incredible India? Maybe not. But Prickly India? Without a doubt!
Amongst all the mayhem, these two instances provide inspiration and hope to women all over the world. Happy weekend!
Women Coaches for Male Pros
Women players may have managed to address the gender gap in professional tennis by securing equal prize money at the four Grand Slams, but the battle to change patriarchal thinking is far from over. Consider this : Of the Top 10 female players in tennis, only 2 have women coaches (one of these coaches – tennis legend Martina Navratilova – is a recent hire, and the other coaches Ekaterina Makarova, who entered the Top 10 this Monday). Of the Top 10 male players, only 1 has a female coach – and that is a giant leap forward for feminism in tennis.
When Andy Murray kicked off the defence of his Wimbledon crown last year by hiring former World Number One & 2006 Wimbledon Champion Amelie Mauresmo as his coach, he sparked off a storm on the internet, the gist of which was: How can a top male player consider taking advice and directions from a woman? Sample this reaction on Twitter:
Great choice for Andy Murray to hire a woman as his new coach. Bet he has lots of washing up and cooking on the tour which she can do!
Seven months later, Murray was back in the final of a Grand Slam, and though he lost to Djokovic last Sunday, we absolutely love the way he’s been playing these last few months – with a lot more positivity and splashes of flair. Better still, we are almost in love with him for publicly declaring his support for female coaches after winning his semi-final at the Australian Open:
A lot of people criticised me for working with her and I think so far this week we have showed women can be very good coaches as well. I would say it was a brave choice from her and hopefully I can repay her in a few days.
While the success of the Murray-Mauresmo partnership is unlikely to open the floodgates for women coaches in sports, it does open up new possibilities. And that can only be good for the sport.
Image courtesy: iTennis
More Women Ministers, Mr. President!
Yesterday we suggested that candidates fighting over the women vote in the Delhi Assembly Elections should field more women candidates if they are serious about women empowerment. It appears our colleagues from neighbouring Afghanistan feel the same : women took to the streets of Kabul after President Ashraf Ghani reneged on his pre-elections promise of greater female participation in the government (now that sounds familiar!). Women made up 38% of the voting public in the elections, and had demanded a proportionate representation as ministers in the new government. The number of women in the 25 member Cabinet that Ghani declared in January? Zero.
In the words of Samira Hamidi, an activist with the Afghan Women’s Network:
…even after one decade, rights that should be handed to us are not recognised. We still have to go to the street to take them.
Who said it was easy being a woman?