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Motherhood or Medals - Why Doesn't Indian Sports Have a Maternity Policy?

No sports federation in India provides a maternity policy, so sportswomen are made to choose - Motherhood or Medals.

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Tababi Devi, like any other mother, struggles to make her two-year-old son Jack sit down for his meals.

What helps is playing videos, on repeat, of a judo fighter pinning her opponent down, and winning a medal for India.

The fighter in the video is Jack’s 20-year-old mother Tababi Devi, who won India’s first-ever Youth Olympics medal in judo, in 2018. A labourer’s daughter, Tababi fought all odds to finish on podiums for the country, but what she could not fight was the system itself.

Her decision to get married and start a family two years back, ended what was supposed to be India’s big medal hope in judo at the 2024 Paris Olympics. When she was just 18.

Why? Because in India, female athletes simply have to choose – Motherhood or Medals.


Not one single sports federation in India has a standard maternity policy, meaning for women like Tababi who want to embrace motherhood there are simply no answers. Can they take time away to have a child? How can they make a comeback after having a child? Will their federation even support them while they have a child?

With no answers from the men who run sports in India, women like Tababi are simply lost to the system.

In our upcoming special series, Motherhood or Medals, we'll bring you the stories of some of India’s greatest sportswomen who embraced motherhood – some the system has lost forever, but also those who have managed to fight their way back.

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Topics:  Dipika Pallikal 

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