Senior National Championship: Dipika Pallikal agrees to play after organizers announce equal pay
India’s ace squash player Dipika Pallikal has confirmed that she will be participating in the upcoming Senior National Championship, which is scheduled to be held in July. This will be the first time in five years that the 24-year-old will be competing in the tournament after the organizers agreed to have equal prize money for both men’s and women’s category.
After winning the premier domestic tournament in 2011, Pallikal had boycotted the tournament demanding that the prize money for winning the title should be equal, a stance that has finally been acknowledged and implemented upon as the organizers have confirmed that the winners will receive Rs 1.25 lakh each.
"I look forward to playing the nationals again. My stand (for equal prize money) was not just about me but for the entire women's squash fraternity. Nowadays, you have more and more international events offering equal prize money. So, it is good that the national federation (SRFI) too has decided to have equal prize money," Pallikal was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
Championship director Niraj Shirgaokar has confirmed the changes made in the prize money.
He said: "Equal prize money is a contentious issue the world over but there are events which offer equal prize money. I welcome SRFI's decision to have the same prize money for men and women."
However, squash is not the only place where women professionals are paid comparatively lower to their male counterpart, an example of the same is witnessed in Tennis. While there is parity in the pay of athletes competing in the four Grand Slams, the same is not the case in the WTA circuit.
The professional body of squash, PFA, had recently made a conscious decision to award equal prize money to the winners and it was first implemented in last month’s World Series Finals, which were held in Dubai and the prize money of $160,000 each was provided to the winners.
The tournament, which will be held in Mumbai from 12-17 July, will witness Pallikal competing against her teammate and friend Joshna Chinappa – who is currently India’s highest-ranked player in the squash rankings in 11th place.
Chinappa has also welcomed SRFI’s move for having pay parity between the winners of the men’s and the women’s category.
"Playing the nationals has never been about prize money for me. It is something I have to be part of every year. But it is nice to have equal prize money. Why should it not be?"