"Sports can play a pivotal role in women's empowerment. It gives identity to an individual and boosts confidence. So, the people of the society are still afraid of being with a woman who has an identity of her own," said Jagmati Sangwan at the India International Centre on Thursday evening.

Also an active social activist, 54-year-old Sangwan was speaking at a lecture series "Delhi - Capturing Women's Lives and Change In A City In Transition" on the topic "Breaking Into New Fields: Women and Sports in Delhi".

According to Sangwan, in a country where women are still considered a liability, the idea to push them into sports requires change of attitude because of the socio-economic imbalance it creates in the society.

"There is a prevalent gender bias in society when it comes to having women in sports. It just isn't the family members who want their daughters to get settled, even sports authorities give us (women) step-motherly treatment," said Sangwan.

Also deliberating over this topic were Raspreet Sidhu, a basketball player and Shriyanka Sadangi, a shooter. Both of them have represented Indian at various international events, and they rued how lack of infrastructure, professional insecurity and step-motherly treatment towards all other sports, except for cricket and badminton, is "corroding the spirit of sports" in India.

"People often tell us, rather mock at us and ask why we keep on losing at the international events? But how can you explain to them that when you go in the other country to play, you realize how they are investing in sports and sports persons," Sidhu, an international basketball player, said.

"If you are not playing cricket or badminton then you are always under stress worrying about how to take care of your family, and what about job security, unlike other international players who have only one worry in mind: how to win?" she added.

Even though India doesn't provide an environment for other sports' players to indulge in a tension-free game, Sadangi, who has represented India at various international shooting championships, feels love for games is what keeps many going.

"It is wonderful to see that despite having so many limitations, people are still playing and want to represent India, because it is a completely different feeling to represent your country at an international level," said Sadangi.


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