Tennis gender pay gap

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Female tennis players associated with the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) have requested an evaluation of the prize money awarded to female players for national tournaments. The timing of the letter written to the PTF president by female tennis players, including top-ranked Ushna Sohail, aligns closely with the release of the Global Gender Gap Report 2018 by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

With Pakistan ranked second-worst of the 149 countries assessed, that too with war-ridden Yemen in the last spot, the area of economic opportunity being poor for women is certainly underscored by the fact that female tennis players have written a letter themselves to the PTF president requesting better pay.

We hope that the tennis players will receive a more powerful response by the federation’s president than what President Arif Alvi spoke following the WEF report. Given the PTF’s recent history, however, we are not very confident. Earlier this year in March, it was uncovered that the PTF had been withholding prize money owed to players.

In 2017, top Pakistani male players including Aisamul Haq expressed displeasure with the little reward money paid following the Davis Cup. The PTF’s prize distribution numbers have not matched the inflow of money from the federal government and the International Tennis Federation, latter of which has given it the status of one of the more successful sports organisations in the country.

While the FBR continues its digging to root out corruption on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, it should be reminded to investigate smaller organisations, too. These organisations continue to operate but do not receive much attention and manage to function passively in the background, with most of the focus spent on other sports like cricket and hockey. Oddly enough, Indian tennis player Sania Mirza receives more limelight than Pakistan’s female tennis players, demonstrating the little support our athletes receive. Perhaps that low support by people is a reflection of the little respect that organisations pay to their own players, evidenced via the disgruntled poorly compensated players, male and female, alike.

In the way that the performing arts have finally begun to garner the support and attention they deserve for having the power to deliver important messages to the public, our sports industry should also be brought to the fore.

A long-time lament of citizens has been the little outlets for entertainment that exist. With more incentive offered to players, competition would become more fierce, attracting public attention and interest. Once interest is built in local sports, people would be willing to spend money on local events rather than saving up for international ones. The mission to better regard our sports industry should include granting female players equal respect and pay.