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‘She chopped her hair off’: Pakistani women’s struggle to play cricket | Global development

Bisma Amjad plays cricket. She aspires to play internationally and was picked for Pakistan’s under-19 World Cup squad.

But when the pandemic came, because she was a woman, there was nowhere for her to practise, so she dressed as a man to play alongside male cricketers at “gully cricket” – the street game.

“Boys used to play gully-cricket even during the pandemic,” she says. “But the movement of girls was restricted, so we couldn’t play at all. I had no option than to dress like a man and practise with them,” says Amjad, 19, who has bowled at first-class and regional matches.

In traditional circles in Karachi, Amjad hears constant comments such as “your skin will turn darker” or “it is a boys’ game and you are wasting your time. Do a course that will help you after marriage.”

She says that many girls from conservative families or rural areas dress like boys so they can play cricket without being noticed.

“A friend of mine has chopped her hair off so she could go and play without being known as she is a girl,” says Amjad. “Women who play sport have to struggle a lot in our society.”

Amjad’s father supported her and drove her to matches but when he became ill she had to stop playing for a few months. “After my father recovered and I got his permission, I learned to ride a bike so I could commute on my own,” she says.

Cycling brought its own problems. “Men would say ‘look, look, she is riding a bike. She used to wear a headscarf, what happened to her?’” she says.

Fiddling with a cricket ball, she says: “I give my savings to my parents to show that I earn some money. I keep telling them, give me a few months more, I will prove it.”

They have now given her one year to break into the national team or else drop cricket.

A team huddle during a women’s cricket match
The Pakistan women’s team in a huddle during the T20 World Cup match against England in Canberra. Unlike their male counterparts, the women’s team get little support. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty

Amjad was chosen forPakistan’s under-19 squad to play the World Cup in 2021, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic, and now she has to keep playing first-class cricket to have any hope of making the national team.

Cricket is the most widely played and watched sport in Pakistan. But not women’s cricket. Excitement is building for the start of the seventh season of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) for men’s cricket on 27 January.

The league hosts six teams from different parts of Pakistan and promotes cricket, helps male players earn a living and a place in the national team.

A woman stands on a cricket pitch with a large white pavilion in the background
Javeria Khan, captain of the Pakistan women’s cricket team, in Karachi’s National stadium. She considers herself lucky to have been supported by her family, despite her rural background. Photograph: Shah Meer Baloch/The Guardian

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has yet to propose a time frame for the women’s league it had promised three years ago. Its chairman, Ramiz Raja, has confirmed that there will be one.

The news has delighted the Pakistan women’s cricket captain, Javeria Khan. “That is very welcoming since it would encourage more women to play cricket,” she says, adding: “Men have a lot of such tournaments where they can show their talents but women do not have such opportunities.

“Here, a woman has to work twice as hard as a man to prove her talent,” she says. “Gender discrimination exists all over the world, but in Asia, the issue is more rampant.”

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Khan says that when the PCB began work on the structure of women’s cricket, players started getting contracts. “When you see incentives in the profession, then you invest for it too. PCB has been doing talent-hunt programmes and sending teams all over the country.”

Khan considers herself lucky to have had support from her family despite coming from a rural area, Torghar, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She says: “My father took pride in me and he used to tell people in our village when my match would take place. They would listen to it on the radio.

“All families should support their daughters to play cricket and sports,” she says. “Culture is a huge hindrance but we can fight that with education.”

A cricket player sweeps the ball away as a wicket-keeper remains poised behind the stumps
Javeria Khan, the Pakistan women’s captain, plays a sweep shot at a T20 match against Bangladesh during the ICC World Cup in Brisbane. Photograph: Jono Searle/Getty

Asfa Hussain, 16, an emerging talent from Karachi, hid her cricket from her father. Her mother used to drop her off and pick her up from the cricket academy in secret.

“When he came to know about it, he became really upset. It was my mother who convinced him to give me a chance to prove myself,” Hussain says.

“The moment I got selected for an under-17 trial it made my father very proud. I am lucky to have my parents’ support and they bear my expenses. We are paid less by the regional teams and get no payment at club level.”

Hussain played for the club that won the Sindh province championship last year. She says: “The game is expensive. You have to take care of your diet, transport, the gym and also buy the best equipment if you are a batsman.

“The PCB has to give incentives to female players. Men’s cricket gets TV coverage, we don’t get that.

A girl lifts her bat as she awaits a delivery in the nets
Asfa Hussain, 16, an emerging young player from Karachi, played alongside the boys at her school. Photograph: Shah Meer Baloch/The Guardian

“When women’s cricket is shown on TV broadly, only then can we fight the stereotypes against it. We will start getting sponsors too,” she says.

Hussain played alongside the boys at her school and says the state has to invest in girls’ cricket at schools. Khan agrees, and says: “Our main issue is grassroots cricket and once we have hunted for talent from schools, these players can be nourished and trained.”

The PCB allocated 5.5% of its budget to women’s cricket and 19.3% to men’s international cricket in 2020.

In 2016 Bismah Maroof, a former Pakistan women’s cricket captain, raised the issue of the significant gender pay gap with the PCB after it emerged that the country’s male cricketers made the equivalent of nearly $77,000 a year, while their female counterparts made only $12,000.

However, the PCB refused to answer questions on pay and the development of women’s cricket when approached by the Guardian.

Najam Sethi, a former PCB chairman, says: “Even urban families are not inclined to send their daughters into professional sport, forget about rural areas. Now with school cricket dying out – [because of] land scarcity and expenses – prospects of women in sports are not good.”

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Congratulations, Privacy Just Took A Great Leap Out the Window!

Your Data Is Being Used Without Your Permission And Knowledge

The Voice Of EU | In the heart of technological innovation, the collision between intellectual property rights and the development of cutting-edge AI technologies has sparked a significant legal battle. The New York Times has taken legal action against OpenAI and Microsoft, filing a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court. This legal maneuver aims to address concerns surrounding the unauthorized use of the Times’ content for the training of AI models, alleging copyright infringements that could potentially result in billions of dollars in damages.


This legal tussle underlines the escalating tension between technological advancements and the protection of intellectual property. The crux of the lawsuit revolves around OpenAI and Microsoft allegedly utilizing the Times’ proprietary content to advance their own AI technology, directly competing with the publication’s services. The lawsuit suggests that this unauthorized utilization threatens the Times’ ability to offer its distinctive service and impacts its AI innovation, creating a competitive landscape that challenges the publication’s proprietary content.

Amidst the growing digital landscape, media organizations like the Times are confronting a myriad of challenges. The migration of readers to online platforms has significantly impacted traditional media, and the advent of artificial intelligence technology has added another layer of complexity. The legal dispute brings to the forefront the contentious practice of AI companies scraping copyrighted information from online sources, including articles from media organizations, to train their generative AI chatbots. This strategy has attracted substantial investments, rapidly transforming the AI landscape.

Exhibit presented by the New York Times’ legal team of ChatGPT replicating a article after being prompted

The lawsuit highlights instances where OpenAI’s technology, specifically GPT-4, replicated significant portions of Times articles, including in-depth investigative reports. These outputs, alleged by the Times to contain verbatim excerpts from their content, raise concerns about the ethical and legal boundaries of using copyrighted material for AI model training without proper authorization or compensation.

The legal action taken by the Times follows attempts to engage in discussions with Microsoft and OpenAI, aiming to address concerns about the use of its intellectual property. Despite these efforts, negotiations failed to reach a resolution that would ensure fair compensation for the use of the Times’ content while promoting responsible AI development that benefits society.

In the midst of this legal battle, the broader questions surrounding the responsible and ethical utilization of copyrighted material in advancing technological innovations come to the forefront.

The dispute between the Times, OpenAI, and Microsoft serves as a significant case study in navigating the intricate intersection of technological progress and safeguarding intellectual property rights in the digital age.

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Conflicted History: ‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

‘Oppenheimer’ And Its Impact On Los Alamos And New Mexico Downwinders

The Voice Of EU | In the highly anticipated blockbuster movie, “Oppenheimer,” the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the first atomic bomb, is portrayed as a riveting tale of triumph and tragedy.

As the film takes center stage, it also brings to light the often-overlooked impacts on a community living downwind from the top-secret Manhattan Project testing site in southern New Mexico.

A Forgotten Legacy

While the film industry and critics praise “Oppenheimer,” a sense of frustration prevails among the residents of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin, who continue to grapple with the consequences of the Manhattan Project. Tina Cordova, a cancer survivor and founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, expresses their feelings, stating, “They invaded our lives and our lands and then they left,” referring to the scientists and military personnel who conducted secret experiments over 200 miles away from their community.

The Consortium, alongside organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been striving to raise awareness about the impact of the Manhattan Project on New Mexico’s population. Advocates emphasize the necessity of acknowledging the human cost of the Trinity Test, the first atomic blast, and other nuclear weapons activities that have affected countless lives in the state.

The Ongoing Struggle for Recognition

As film enthusiasts celebrate the drama and brilliance of “Oppenheimer,” New Mexico downwinders feel overlooked by both the U.S. government and movie producers. The federal government’s compensation program for radiation exposure still does not include these affected individuals. The government’s selection of the remote and flat Trinity Test Site, without warning residents in the surrounding areas, further added to the controversy.

Living off the land, the rural population in the Tularosa Basin had no idea that the fine ash settling on their homes and fields was a result of the world’s first atomic explosion.

The government initially attempted to cover up the incident, attributing the bright light and rumble to an explosion at a munitions dump. It was only after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan weeks later that New Mexico residents realized the magnitude of what they had witnessed.

Tracing the Fallout

According to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, large amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere during the Trinity Test, with fallout descending over a vast area. Some of the fallout reached as far as the Atlantic Ocean, but the greatest concentration settled approximately 30 miles from the test site.

Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer

The consequences of this catastrophic event have affected generations of New Mexicans, who still await recognition and justice for the harm caused by nuclear weapons.

A Tale of Contrasts: Los Alamos and the Legacy of Oppenheimer

As the film’s spotlight shines on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a contrasting narrative unfolds in Los Alamos, more than 200 miles north of the Tularosa Basin. Los Alamos stands as a symbol of Oppenheimer’s legacy, housing one of the nation’s premier national laboratories and boasting the highest percentage of people with doctorate degrees in the U.S.

Oppenheimer’s influence is evident throughout Los Alamos, with a street bearing his name and an IPA named in his honor at a local brewery. The city embraces its scientific legacy, showcasing his handwritten notes and ID card in a museum exhibit. Los Alamos National Laboratory employees played a significant role in the film, contributing as extras and engaging in enlightening discussions during breaks.

The “Oppenheimer” Movie

Director Christopher Nolan’s perspective on the Trinity Test and its profound impact is evident in his approach to “Oppenheimer.” He has described the event as an extraordinary moment in human history and expressed his desire to immerse the audience in the pivotal moment when the button was pushed. Nolan’s dedication to bringing historical accuracy and emotional depth to the screen is evident as he draws inspiration from Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

For Nolan, Oppenheimer’s story is a potent blend of dreams and nightmares, capturing the complexity and consequences of the Manhattan Project. As the film reaches global audiences, it also offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the downwinders in New Mexico, whose lives were forever altered by the legacy of nuclear weapons testing.

The Oppenheimer Festival and Beyond

Los Alamos is determined to use the Oppenheimer Festival as an opportunity to educate visitors about the true stories behind the film’s events. The county’s “Project Oppenheimer” initiative, launched in early 2023, encompasses forums, documentaries, art installations, and exhibits that delve into the scientific contributions of the laboratory and the social implications of the Manhattan Project.

A special area during the festival will facilitate discussions about the movie, fostering a deeper understanding of the community’s history. The county aims to continue revisiting and discussing the legacy of the Manhattan Project, ensuring that the impact of this pivotal moment in history is never forgotten.

As “Oppenheimer” takes audiences on an emotional journey, it serves as a reminder that every historical event carries with it complex and multifaceted implications. The movie may celebrate the scientific achievements of the past, but it also illuminates the urgent need to recognize and address the human cost that persists to this day.

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GSK’s Mosquirix Is Revolutionizing The Fight Against Malaria

GSK’s Mosquirix And The Fight Against Malaria

Over the past three years, the global focus has primarily been on the Covid-19 pandemic, diverting attention and resources away from other infectious diseases that disproportionately affect vulnerable populations in the Global South. Among these diseases, malaria continues to be a pressing public health concern, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year, especially children in Sub-Saharan Africa. While significant progress has been made in preventing and treating malaria, innovative solutions are needed to combat this deadly disease.

Advancements in Malaria Prevention:

Researchers have made remarkable progress in both prevention and treatment strategies for malaria. The World Health Organization’s recommendation of dual-ingredient insecticide-treated bed nets in March 2023 marks a significant milestone in preventing malaria transmission by Anopheles mosquitoes. These nets, including those with more lethal insecticide combinations and those disrupting mosquito growth, are key tools in malaria prevention efforts.


The Importance of Cost-Effective Antimalarial Medicines:

Cost-effective antimalarial medicines play a crucial role in combating malaria. In 2021, approximately 45 million children between the ages of three months and five years received seasonal malaria chemoprevention, which involved monthly doses of therapeutic drugs at a cost of less than $4 per person. While this approach has shown promising results, the development of a groundbreaking vaccine brings renewed hope.

GSK’s Mosquirix (RTS,S) Vaccine:

GSK’s Mosquirix, also known as RTS,S, is an innovative vaccine that has the potential to transform the fight against malaria. This vaccine offers hope in preventing the disease, particularly among children in malaria-endemic regions. Although the current cost is relatively high, around $40 per child for the first year, it presents an essential step forward in malaria prevention efforts.

The Persistent Threat of Malaria:

Despite substantial investments of $26 billion to combat malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of cases has seen a slight increase between 2000 and 2019, although the number of deaths has decreased. This highlights the need for new prevention measures tailored to vulnerable populations, especially children. Taking inspiration from the Covid-19 pandemic, where monoclonal antibodies have demonstrated their potential, similar approaches could be explored in the fight against malaria.

The Potential of Monoclonal Antibodies:

Monoclonal antibodies, laboratory-made copies of immune system proteins, have shown immense potential in combating various diseases, including cancer and autoimmune disorders. Their remarkable selectivity and ability to target specific molecular markers make them an attractive option for preventive interventions. Researchers at the United States National Institutes of Health, led by Robert Seder, have identified two antibodies that target CSP-1, a protein used by the malaria parasite to invade liver cells. Clinical trials are currently underway in Mali and Kenya to assess their safety and efficacy, focusing on seasonal and year-round malaria transmission settings.

Game-Changing Potential:

Monoclonal antibodies have the potential to be a game-changer in malaria prevention, advancing the long-sought goal of eradication. The latest generation of antimalarial antibodies offers extended protection, with a single dose potentially safeguarding a child for at least three months, if not longer. Clinical trials will determine the extent and duration of this protection and guide future improvements to achieve a once-a-year injection.

Making Monoclonal Antibodies Accessible:

While monoclonal antibodies are often associated with high costs, efforts to increase their potency could significantly reduce expenses. It is estimated that an injection as small as one milliliter of the antibody drug being trialed in Mali and Kenya could protect children at a cost of only $5-10 per person. To ensure accessibility, it is crucial to engage national regulatory agencies and involve affected countries in the production of these biologics. While manufacturing antibodies is a complex and regulated process, investing in the necessary technology now would greatly benefit developing economies burdened by endemic malaria.

Addressing Disparities and Raising Awareness:

Currently, demand for monoclonal antibodies primarily comes from high-income countries, with Africa accounting for only 1% of global sales. This disparity underscores the importance of working with national regulatory agencies to address public health concerns and involve affected countries in the production and distribution of these life-saving biologics. Collaboration among government, academia, and industry is crucial to coordinate advocacy efforts and raise awareness about the potential of monoclonal antibodies in malaria prevention.

Preparing for Success:

While the deployment of the first generation of antimalarial antibodies is expected to occur no earlier than 2027, it is essential to start preparing for their potential success now. These antibodies hold tremendous promise as a powerful weapon in the fight against malaria, alongside bed nets, medicines, and emerging vaccines. Clinical trials will provide vital information on the extent of their efficacy, duration of protection, and dosage requirements. It is imperative to remain proactive and ensure that the necessary infrastructure and policies are in place to facilitate the widespread adoption of these breakthrough treatments.

Combining Science & Research:

As the world continues to battle the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is crucial not to overlook the persistent threat of malaria, especially in regions heavily impacted by poverty. While significant progress has been made in malaria prevention and treatment, the development of innovative solutions like GSK’s Mosquirix vaccine and the potential of monoclonal antibodies offer renewed hope in the fight against this deadly disease. By harnessing the lessons learned from Covid-19 research and engaging in collaborative efforts, we can work towards a future where malaria is no longer a major public health concern. Together, we can strive for the eradication of malaria and ensure a healthier future for vulnerable populations worldwide.

By Laura Richardson | Independent Contributor “The Voice Of EU

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