The Role of Cricket in the Fight for Gender Equality
On 27 November, I attended a women’s Big Bash League cricket match.
To the amusement of many of my friends, I went to the match with my knitting and sat in the front row and clicked away with my needles.
At one point, two young boys ran down to the boundary. One would have been seven and the other possibly just turned three. They had Sydney Thunder flags to cheer on the team. They were hanging over the boundary line waving the flag and yelling, "Go Sydney Thunder!"
From this tiny little moment, I had a realisation, looking at these two boys, that they were here not to cheer on 'girls' and think about the fight for gender equality and women in cricket. No, they saw cricket players on the field. They saw people representing the team that they are obviously very passionate about.
It was in that moment, I realised that the experience of that cricket match meant so much to me in the fight for gender equality and very little for those young boys... and that was a fantastic thing.
As a young girl, I didn’t grow up seeing televised matches of women's cricket. My heroes were from the male cricket team. My heroes were Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Andrew Symonds - among others. As a child, I looked up to male AFL players too. I couldn't name a single female footballer. While I can now name a number of female AFL players, I still wouldn't be able to tell you the name of any female rugby player in Australia or internationally. The AFLW has made great strides; however, there is still a long way to go before complete equality in football.
The role of cricket in the fight for gender equality is one to be applauded.
But the young boys on the boundary line don't see cricket like that. They don't see the past of cricket; they just see the future.
It was a truly amazing realisation that this generation is currently being brought up with the fact that men and women have just as much right to play sports, be celebrated in sports and be financially rewarded for their contribution to sports. I’m sure as the boys are older they will start to learn about the struggles that women have endured to get where they are today.
But in that moment of them standing there cheering on their team, the innocence was so pure and so beautiful. The innocence was so full of hope that one day we will have generations of people who no longer see gender as a barrier for participation in activities.
Each election, I cast my vote in a way that is so natural to me that I have to consciously stop and remind myself of the women who fought and died for my right to vote. My hope is that one day, young girls will walk onto the cricket pitch without thinking twice about it. My hope is that for many young female cricketers around the country, that moment is already here.
It’s always the aim of those who work in gender equality to have their work taken for granted one day, to reach a point where the past needs to be actively recalled as opposed to still be fresh in people's memories.
It made me realise that in 100 years' time, I hope all of my work is taken for granted. I hope no one remembers my name, the name of my company or any of the work that I’ve done because the future is so promising that we never need to look back into the past.