India cricket team wear mother’s names on jerseys to support gender equality

Indian Cricketers on Saturday sported their mothers’ names on their jerseys to applaud their role in shaping their careers in a campaign to change attitudes towards women in the patriarchal country.

The “Nayi Soch (New Thinking)” initiative pitched by official broadcasters Star Sports saw the players don the renamed jerseys in the fifth and final one-day international against New Zealand in the Indian city of Visakhapatnam.

“It’s an initiative to appreciate the contribution of the mom,” skipper MS Dhoni said during the toss ceremony, sporting his mother’s name Devki on the jersey.

Openers Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma then walked out to bat with Sujata and Purnima written above their jersey numbers instead of their surnames which refer to their fathers’ family names.

Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rahane also feature in TV advertisements to promote the campaign which seeks to recognise the contribution of millions of Indian mothers in shaping their children’s lives and values.

 “You must be wondering whose name it is? It’s mine. Whatever I am today. It’s because of my mother so obviously why should my identity be linked only to my father’s name? I am as much a Saroj as I am a Kohli,” says Kohli in the TV ad.

Patriarchy remains deeply entrenched in Indian society with women battling gender inequality on many fronts including limited access to job opportunities, healthcare and education.

India has faced intense scrutiny in recent years in the wake of a series of high-profile rapes that have unleashed a wave of public anger over its violent treatment of women.

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