Local government officials met with religious leaders to attempt to persuade them to allow the gala to go forward as scheduled. Finally, the event’s name was altered to the more benign ‘GB Women’s Fair 2022,’ and it started on Wednesday as planned. Earlier it was feared that the sporting event might be cancelled under the pressure of regressive forces, but the administrators clearly stood firm and went ahead with plans. Credit must be given to women athletes as they exhibited courage and passion and came in droves at the location that proved decisive. The fact that the tournament has gotten off to such a strong start demonstrates the lack of healthy competitive activities for women in the northern areas.
More and more such events should be held as women participating in sports, especially in far-off areas, prove a catalyst for retrograde forces in society. Those opposing women’s participation in sports shows their belief that public space is only for men, from which women must be excluded for the sake of culture and morality. The same excuse is used to disenfranchise women in some sections of the country, to thwart domestic abuse regulations, and even to legitimise child marriage.
Pakistani cricketer Diana Baig, who belongs to GB, has asked why such issues never emerge when men’s athletic events are held. This is a valid question and must be answered.