THE Pakistan Cricket Board’s announcement of its parental support policy earlier this week is praiseworthy, for both the signal it sends and the substance of the concessions now offered, particularly to female players. Women cricketers are now entitled to avail up to 12 months of paid maternity leave, with the guarantee of a contract extension the following year. They can also choose to transfer to a non-playing role in the days leading up to their leave. Upon their return, new mothers are entitled to medical and physical rehabilitative support, and, if required to travel, are entitled to travel with their infant child and another caregiver of their choice. Men are also given the option of availing up to 30 days of paid leave within the first two months of their child’s birth. With the policy for cricketing parents coming into immediate effect for all players, the scheme already has its first beneficiary in Bismah Maroof, who in April announced her indefinite leave from cricket as she is set to begin a new chapter of her life as a mother.

Women’s cricket has long languished due to a lack of investment compared to the men’s team, but the PCB appears to be holding firm to its more recent commitment to provide their female players the resources and support they require — by improving the terms of their central contracts, expanding the network of girls’ academies and organising regular domestic tournaments. All the same, the parental support policy represents a huge leap forward for the cricket board as a progressive and women-friendly organisation. Not only does it attempt to offer players a better work-life balance in between the gruelling training sessions and lengthy match schedules, it enables women to have the choice to continue pursuing their sporting careers even if they decide to start their own families. Clearly, the PCB recognises the value of their players and wishes to ensure that they can have long, successful careers without it being at the expense of their personal lives and well-being. More organisations should follow suit.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2021

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