Malawian women remain disadvantaged and the differences are particularly marked when it comes to poverty, violence and HIV and Aids. A single mother is far more likely to be poor than a single father. Violence against women is a daily occurrence at home, and in the community and at work, and due to Malawian women's sweeping unequal status in society, even sport is affected. Which makes the story of the Malawian Under 19 Women's Cricket Team all the more remarkable.
Cricket in Malawi has a chequered history dating back a hundred years. Introduced by Scottish missionaries in the 1870’s, cricket was one of several games, along with football and rugby, to have quickly gained in popularity. Although the sport has emerged from it’s colonial shadow, cricket remains a game for the privileged male: sons of high ranking officials or ministers, or those who attend the country’s elite primary and secondary schools. The majority of adult teams are made up of higher earning men, and cricket, in many ways reflects the economic inequality of Malawian society in general. For the vast majority of Malawians, cricket is only now, slowly opening its doors.
The Malawian Under 19 Women’s Cricket Team is a ‘first’ in a country where women remain disadvantaged in almost all aspects of daily life. It is also an attempt to change a quintessential gentlemen’s game into a truly inclusive sport.
Malawi Eleven is the 7th instalment of Julia Gunther’s ongoing project Proud Women of Africa - an ongoing narrative encompassing individual chapters, which documents the lives of women throughout Africa.