Pakistan's women cricketers can now get 12 months of paid maternity leave.
Gulf Today Report
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) on Tuesday announced its "Parental Support Policy" wherein women cricketers will be allowed to opt for non-playing roles during pregnancy and "be entitled to take 12 months of paid maternity leave" after childbirth.
The aim of the policy is to "motivate champion professional cricketers in their journey to parenthood" and facilitate their return to the game while "balancing their parental responsibilities with the demands of their cricketing career."
The PCB said in a statement that apart from 12 months of paid maternity leave, the players will be guaranteed a contract extension for the following year.
"The PCB believes that a player's right to pursue the game on a professional level should not be limited because of their pregnancy or responsibilities as a new parent. Upon conclusion of the maternity leave, the player will be reintegrated into cricketing activities and provided adequate medical and physical support in respect of their post-childbirth rehabilitation," the PCB said.
"If a woman player is required to travel for cricketing activities, the PCB will support the player by allowing her to travel with a support person of her choice to assist in caring for her infant child, with the travel and accommodation costs to be shared equally," the PCB said.
"Male cricketers, who are expectant or new fathers, will also be entitled to 30 days of paid leave," the statement said.
PCB chief executive Wasim Khan said, "The PCB has a duty of care towards its cricketers. It is appropriate that we have a player-friendly parental support policy so that our professional cricketers can feel fully supported during an important stage in their lives, without worrying about their careers.
"Now that we have (a) maternity leave policy, I am hopeful that it will attract more women and girls to take up the sport," he added.
Just last week, Pakistan team captain Bismah Maroof announced her indefinite maternity leave.
The PCB was said to be in the process of working up the newly announced provisions at the time. Today, as the news is announced, Maroof is the first cricketer to benefit from the new policies.
Former national team captain Sana Mir congratulated all those involved.
Former captain and current chief selector Urooj Mumtaz Khan called the move a huge stride forward.
Ex-Australian cricketers Lisa Sthalekar and Mel Jones also welcomed the move.
Leaves due to parental responsibilities have been a concern in cricket for a while, as athletes give their reproductive years to the sport despite their own personal ambitions for a family.
When Indian men's cricket captain Virat Kohli returned from his tour of Australia mid-series for the birth of his child earlier this year, there were conflicting opinions in India.
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"It is truly an honour for any cricketer to captain their country and it is a great privilege for me to continue in this role. The 2022-23 cricket season is the busiest for Pakistan women's side and we are excited and geared up for the challenges it presents," said Maroof in a PCB Statement.
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