2022 International Women’s Day: Five South Asian Female Athletes Who Defy Stereotypes

​​​​​​It’s never easy to break society’s taboos, especially on the subcontinent, where religious and cultural beliefs rule everything. South Asian women used to have a hard time doing anything they desired just a few years ago. Even now, in Southeast Asia, the societal attitude toward women has not changed. But there are a few women who went out on their own and have shattered the taboos. On the occasion of the 2022 International Women’s Day, this article recognizes five South Asian female athletes who have defied prejudices.

South Asia’s Five Spirited Female Athletes

Many notable female athletes from the Indian subcontinent have proved their ability on a global scale. As a result, picking the top five from all of them was a difficult task. Here are five female athletes who have broken social conventions.

Susanthika Jayasinghe

Sprinter, Sri Lanka

Retired legendary Lankan female sprinter Susanthika Jayasinghe was born in Uduwaka in 1975. Susanthika earned a silver medal in the 200m sprint at the Olympics. She is the first Asian woman to win a sprint medal at either Olympic or World Championships. She is also the only Asian to win an Olympic medal in a sprint event.

Susanthika Jayasinghe is regarded as the ‘Asian Black Mare’ because of her supremacy on the track and field. What she accomplished is truly remarkable. According to the western world, a girl from the subcontinent could never win a medal in the Olympics or World Championships. However, Susanthika shattered prejudices by making history on the athletic field.

Sania Mirza

Tennis, India

Indian women’s tennis player, Sania Mirza was born in Hyderabad in 1986 to a devout Muslim family. Sania Mirza began playing tennis at the age of six, and at the age of seventeen, she began her international career as a professional tennis player.

Sania Mirza is a six-time Grand Slam winner in mixed doubles and doubles. She earned a total of 14 medals at the Asian Games, Afro-Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games. Sania defied two social taboos: first, coming from a traditional Muslim family to make a reputation for herself in international tennis; and second, despite being Asian, she was one of the prominent global tennis players.

Samina Baig

Mountaineer, Pakistan

Amusement, excitement, and fun are all essential meanings of sport. Mountaineering is a sport in such a context. However, the sport has evolved into something more, and hiking can no longer be considered a sport. Since hiking requires a lot of physical activity and there are some climbing-related sports, Pakistan’s Samina Baig was picked, who overcame society’s taboos by conquering Mount Everest.

Samina became the first Pakistani woman and the youngest Muslim female to climb Mount Everest at the age of twenty-one. Millions of Pakistani girls who aspire to explore the world have been inspired by her achievements.

Mary Kom

Boxer, India

Mary Kom was born in the Indian state of Manipur in 1982. This boxer-turned politician is a great inspiration to many young players in India because of her struggle and perseverance on the way to becoming India’s most celebrated female boxer. Mary Kom grew up in a poor family and used to assist her parents with their farming. However, her love for the sport was undeniable.

Mary Kom earned many medals in the World Amateur Boxing Championships, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games. What’s more amazing is that she took a hiatus when her first child was born. She returned later and conquered the ring.

Nishat Majumdar

Mountaineer, Bangladesh

Two decades ago, the idea of a girl climbing a mountain was unthinkable to the majority of Bangladeshi households. However, Nishat Majumdar defied the odds by conquering Mount Everest on May 19, 2012. Nishat was born in the Noakhali district in 1981. She has always been an adventurous girl who aspires to conquer mountains. Nishat’s feat encourages more female Bangladeshi explorers who want to break society’s taboos.

Bottom Line

Women are often oppressed by society in South Asia. In most cases, religious beliefs trump their aspirations in the traditional subcontinental society. Besides, there is a perception in the western world that athletes from the subcontinent are not good enough to compete in major sporting events.

The legendary sportwomen mentioned above have defied both preconceptions by following their passion and staying with it until they reach their goals. These athletes have paved the way for others and are true role models for women everywhere. Hats off to them, on the occasion of 2022 International Women’s Day.

Source: United News of Bangladesh