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#GirlsInGreen: Why Pakistan’s cricket team is a ray of hope for women’s empowerment

by .

The writer is a lawyer and activist based in Islamabad

On 5th March I wrote to Sana Mir, the Captain of the Pakistan Team to invite her to speak at a Women Empowerment and Protection Conference in Lahore taking place tomorrow. She responded saying that she would have loved to but she is flying to play the Women’s WorldT20. I was embarrassed to say the least. How did I not know that the Women’s WorldT20 was also happening?  But then again how often do I or most of us follow women sports in Pakistan anyway given there is next to no coverage in the media about them.

This got me and my colleagues at Never Forget Pakistan thinking that we should at least do our bit to create awareness about the team’s WorldT20 trail and put all our support behind them. Were we doing them a favour? Not at all. Quite the opposite actually. We only wanted to express our gratitude to the women’s team for playing their hearts out, for making a statement with every match and a bigger one with every win. Despite minimum coverage and a big dearth of corporate sponsors these girls are laying the ground for the future generation of female sport stars.


We first started with a facebook and twitter profile filter campaign and were lucky to get the GirlsInGreen trending in Pakistan. The filters included group shots of the team celebrating their various wins. Fans including local celebrities joined in wearing the filters on their profiles with pride.

And it is not just cricket. Pakistani women are shining in all sports. Footballers like Hajra Khan, squash players like Maria Toorpakay, Tennis Ace like Sarah Mahboob, weightlifting champion Twinkle Sohail, swimming gold winners in Lianna Swan and atheletes such as Naseem Hameed to name a few. These women are changing traditional perceptions with their determination. We must support them. We must promote them for they are the stars which will inspire the next generation of female athletes to represent Pakistan on the international Stage. It’s not just about acknowledgement for such players through media but Pakistan should work towards equal pay and equal opportunity and develop fair and just socio-economic culture where women and men are equals.

Dum Azmane Aayi Re is Dedicated to all our women and girls who have broken traditional boundaries and will in the future continue to break through obstacles in competitive sports. It is our follow up on the Facebook and Twitter profile filters we trended with the GirlsInGreen.  The players in our cricket team come from very supportive families but there are not just struggles within the households but in society as well, specially if it is being influenced by patriarchal values. It is not just about culture and traditions but patriarchy is also reflected in our economy and lack of support by big corporate brands for female athletes is an example of that.

Not so surprising even the west is still struggling with patriarchy as was recently evidence in the sexist comments of Indian Wells Tennis Tournament Director, Ray Moore.

The song uses phrases “Patli Kalai, Aesay Ghumai” to respond to those who see women as unfit for competitive sports. The song while celebrating the on field struggles of sportswomen also talks about the biggest hurdles they face and that is the perception of the masses regarding women in public places and on the sports field. The second verse specifically talks about the walls and shackles in the minds of men as regards women in a patriarchal society. We can also see the same translate into our culture, politics and even our economy.

We hope that looking at our endeavors the big corporate sponsors may get inspired to produce much better work and campaigns in recognition of the women’s team. They can help develop familiarity with fans and larger audiences which will motivate young girls to pursue professional sports. Unless of course these multinationals want to adopt sexist and patriarchal ways of doing business. As a friend remarked that women pay equal money as customers of these brands, what are the brands doing for the women?

The song has been sung by Afshan Fawad, composed by Ali Safeer, arranged by Shabi and written by ET. The concept for the song and campaign was done by yours truly.

At Never Forget Pakistan Our aim is to strive for a peaceful and more tolerant Pakistan through advocacy, progressive dialogue, creative activism, critical thinking and public awareness programs in which every citizen of Pakistan would be able to actively participate.


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