A female from Hunza, Pakistan has made history by making an unprecedented achievement in one of the most difficult combat sports. Lately, Pakistan’s first-ever female mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Anita Karim has won against Australian opponent Uyen Ha in Thailand. Pakistan has little to boast of about women’s achievements because they are not provided with equal opportunities in any sphere of life. They suffer at the hands of male chauvinists who consider them inferior. Amid this doom and gloom, victory secured by Ms. Anita Karim is a welcoming development. The participation of Ms. Karim in the most difficult fighting sports will encourage females’ participation in other sports. The world of sports is considered a no-go area for women in Pakistan as they are still struggling to make their mark and get due recognition of their talents. Besides facing rivals, woman athletes in Pakistan tackle additional challenges like cultural barriers, gender discrimination and religious bigotry in pursuit of their ambition of becoming players of international repute. In Pakistan, women’s involvement in sports is strongly mediated by socioeconomic status and ethnicity. Based crudely on a gender duality in which sport is valued as a masculine activity, women are not encouraged to take part in any sports activity. All exultation is reserved for men in this male-dominated society.
Though a number of female players in different games have shown their mettle, yet they remain unrecognised and unrewarded. In such a scenario, if a female’s talent is recognized at the international level, it is no mean feat. Cultural barriers make it difficult for sportswomen to get due encouragement to take up either team or individual sport – especially combat sports like MMA fighting. In Pakistan, opting for a sport like MMA is like out of the mould for our society. Still there is no dearth of talent in the country. So far, Anita has participated in five international fights and won three of them. All Pakistani women should feel proud of Ms. Karim’s achievement. Already, women are not treated equally in Pakistan. Males are given priority over females in a country where females are more in number. The government should introduce laws that prohibit gender discrimination and offer remedies for such behaviour in the field of sports and other sectors. The society in general needs to change its perception about women’s participation in sports. At individual level, everyone needs to support female athletes so that they could play their role in projecting a positive image of the country abroad.