Equal spaces will make women go places

Updated: Sep 21, 2019, 07:49 IST | The Editorial |

When we talk about equal rights, a big part of that is the freedom to claim public spaces

Pic/ iStock
Pic/ iStock

This edit has championed parity in different fields. Gender equality is prime among them. We had spoken about how Saudi Arabia had a responsibility of freeing let-women-drive activists. Then, it had cheered when another bastion had fallen, when Saudi women relaxed its male guardianship laws and allowed women to travel with male guardians. All the time of course, we had added caveats about how much more had to be done for complete equality.

Today, we are calling out Iran. Reports have stated that FIFA president Gianni Infantino has told Iran it is time to allow women into football stadiums.

It is shocking to learn that Iranian women have been banned from stadiums when men's teams have been playing, since just after the 1979 Islamic revolution. It has been 40 years since that space has been denied to women. Cutting off access to public spaces to one gender, is a grave injustice. When we talk about equal rights, a big part of that is the freedom to claim public spaces.

In Mumbai though there is no official rule, you will see ad hoc on bank holidays or Sundays, groups of young men playing cricket or football on relatively secluded streets. Girls conspicuously absent. Nobody has stopped them but social mores and conditioning dictate that they stay off the roads, especially as they may be harassed, teased, laughed at. Even without any rule, spoken or written it is accepted that this is male space.

Iran of course is extreme and there are huge differences, yet it must make us introspect on the many places which are subtly 'off limits' to women under some guise or the other. As one half of the population, women need to see doors open for them everywhere, in every country and for all places. FIFA, you need to call this out, loud and repeatedly so that the world can hear and join in.

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