Set girls free: Tendulkar’s message on Girl Child Day

New Delhi: Lamenting the discrimination that girls face in India and worldwide, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Wednesday said that their gender should be given a fair platform and above everything else, “freedom”.

“There should be a fair platform. We should not discriminate (between the two sexes),” Tendulkar said during a panel discussion organised here by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and Unicef on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child.

“While sending our girls out, we are always afraid thinking she might make mistakes but we don’t feel so in case of boys.

“We insulate her and don’t give her the chance to use her brains and have her own experiences,” said Tendulkar, who is also the Unicef Goodwill ambassador.

“We definitely need to protect them. We also need to provide what they want — opportunity, encouragement, guidance and above all, freedom. They should have freedom about what the want to be in life,” he added.

The discussion on “The Role of Sports in the Empowerment of Girls” pointed out the decline of child marriages from 47 per cent to 27 per cent. To this, Tendulkar reacted saying it was not enough.

“Child marriage and other social pressures hamper a child’s growth. I stand to SAY NO to Child Marriage and make a better world for our girls,” he said.

He gave his own example to inspire parents of girl children.

“As a kid, I decided to follow my dream of playing for India. This should be the case of every girl child in India and the world. Every girl child should chase her dreams. It is very important for parents to give them a platform. Their contribution is significant,” he said.

He explained how hearing about female athletes in his childhood created an impact on his mind.

“I grew up watching so many great athletes…women athletes. They have had a huge impact on me and not just the cricket legends,” he said.

“Talking to the athletes last year at Rio Olympics made me realise how difficult their journeys have been, and the amount of struggle they have had to do,” he added.

“Our female athletes made us so proud at Rio last year. Looking at them we proudly say that we belong to the same country.”