CAN Cannot Do This!

Published On: February 29, 2024 07:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

Nepal, like the other countries in South Asia, is notorious for pay disparity based on gender. In a comprehensive report published in 2019, the then Central Bureau of Statistics (now National Statistics Office) said the pay disparity between men and women in Nepal was around 30 percent. This means, on an average, women earn some 30 percent less than their male counterparts even if all other conditions are the same for both the genders. The gender wage gap in Nepal is significantly higher than the global average which stands at 20 percent. Experts blame the deeply-rooted discrimination between men and women in Nepali society for the huge gender wage gap in the country. Despite efforts to resolve the gender wage gap problem, it thrives well in almost all sectors and professions in the country.

Sadly, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), a public institution, has given continuity to this ill-practice and discrimination. In a significant announcement on Monday (February 26), CAN graded the national level cricketers, awarding them central contracts and fixing their monthly salaries. The new classification system has introduced four grades, with the top tier male cricketers of Grade ‘A’ earning a monthly salary of Rs 100,000 now. Similarly, ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’ grade male cricketers are to receive a monthly salary of Rs 70,000, Rs 55,000 and Rs 35,000, respectively. This is definitely a positive step which will serve to motivate Nepali cricketers.

However, CAN has decided to pay the female cricketers in Grade ‘A’ only half of what their male counterparts will get i.e. only Rs 50,000! This is a glaring example of gender discrimination promoted by the national cricketing body of the country. This glaring difference between the salaries of male and female cricketers is highly objectionable. How can CAN mete out such discrimination to the female cricketers? Doesn’t this reflect a deep-seated gender bias in CAN officials?

That men and women are equal and should be paid equally for the same job under the same conditions is a universal principle. However, the authorities at CAN seem to believe otherwise as their decision is a stark reminder that gender discrimination continues to permeate even in cricket, a sport which has become quite popular in the country over the past couple of decades.

CAN’s decision has come as a surprise and is against the just notion of ending the gender pay gap and ensuring equal treatment to both males and females in all sectors and professions. The move by CAN is a burning example of direct pay discrimination. At a time when the government and its apparatuses, society and the entire country should fight against such gender discriminations, CAN has announced a disparity between male and female cricketers’ salaries that exceeds the country’s average gender pay gap by a whopping 20 percent.  

There is a huge gender pay gap in Nepal and across the world primarily because of the deeply-rooted patriarchal spirit in society, which falsely assumes that men are physically and mentally superior to women. The government in Nepal has formulated quite a few laws to ensure equal treatment for men and women in terms of wages. However, the prevailing patriarchal mindset has prevented the implementation of these laws. And it seems CAN is driven by people with the same mindset.

Meanwhile, a report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) last year mentioned that there is not a single country where women are paid as much as men. Moreover, according to the WEF report, the global pay gap between men and women will take more than two centuries to close, because it is so vast and the pace of change so slow. But this finding cannot and should not discourage us when it comes to ending gender-based pay disparity. Therefore, there is no alternative to governments and other responsible agencies across the world coordinating among them to practically end gender inequality, including resolving issues related to wages and other inequalities between males and females.

Clearly, CAN officials require a fundamental shift in their mindset that acknowledges women's contributions as equal to their male counterparts. CAN cannot and should not make women cricketers feel undervalued and underpaid simply because of their gender.

The timing of CAN’s move holds even more significance with March 8, International Women's Day, just about a week away. As the world prepares to celebrate International Women's Day, CAN's action highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive change. It is a reminder that the battle for gender equality is far from over. Nevertheless, all kinds of discriminatory practices, including pay disparity based on gender, must be dismantled. The situation where women continue to face unjust wage differentials solely based on their gender must come to an end.

To sum things up, it is disheartening to see the discrimination of gender wage gap endorsed by a public institution like CAN. In fact, CAN can and should set an example for equal treatment and opportunities for all. And it can take its cue in that direction from the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), which, in December 2020, took a historic decision to end wage discrimination between male and female national footballers, and pay them the same salary starting January 2021! Nepal thus became one of the few countries in the world to end gender-based pay disparity in the world’s most popular sport.

Let’s hope CAN does the same in Nepali cricket! 

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