Bringing parity in prize money for "finishing positions of teams" in women's and men's world tournaments will be part of the governing body's discussions around the next eight-year cycle of women's events, stretching from 2024 through 2031, the ICC CEO Geoff Allardice has said.
Speaking from Wellington, Allardice made the assertion about a potential review of the prize money for women's world events when asked why the winners of the ongoing 2022 women's ODI World Cup in New Zealand would take home roughly just a third of the sum won by the champions of the most recent men's ODI World Cup, held in 2019 in England.
"One of the things that we did at the start of the cycle," Allardice said on Tuesday, ahead of the 2022 World Cup semi-finals, "was we projected through this event cycle - most of the ICC's finances are done with an eight-year view - and what we've been trying to do over this cycle is bridge the gap between the women's prize money and the men's prize money.
"We are about to start discussions around the next cycle and one of the starting points for that discussion is going to be trying to get parity for the finishing positions of teams in women's events and comparable men's events. So we're not there yet, but we're on the journey to getting towards prize money parity."
The ICC had doubled the prize money for the winners of eight-team 2022 women's ODI World Cup to US$1.32 million, and brought about a 75% increase on the overall prize money pot which stands at $3.5 million, $1.5 million more than the 2017 edition, which England had won.
Yet, the total prize pool of this World Cup is still $6.5m less than the $10m given away at the 10-team 2019 men's ODI World Cup, where champions England won $4m while runners-up New Zealand took home $2m for making the final of that event. The two losing semi-finalists, Australia and India, walked away with $800,000 each.
Though an expansion of the women's ODI World Cup from an eight-team event to a 10-team one will happen only in 2029, and not in the 2025 edition, Allardice singled out the difference in the number teams in the two events as a reason behind the women's winnings being less than the men's.
"We're coming from a long way back and we're making progress in that [prize money disbursement] area," he said. "In terms of where we're at, I mean, the tournaments have got a different number of teams; they're different lengths.
"What we're trying to come up with for the next cycle when we've got the opportunity to model out our finances [and] our prize money distribution afresh is being able to get a parity [and] that we will address the issues that you raise."
Allardice highlighted the "competitiveness" and "standard of play" in the league stage of the ongoing World Cup as a standout feature, describing them as testament to "the strides the teams have been taking forward over the last five years or so". The growing visibility of the women's game also reflected in the participation of eight cricketer-mothers in the tournament, by far the most at a single edition of a World Cup in at least two decades.
Though some national boards have introduced bespoke maternity provisions for their women cricketers in the recent years, the lack of policy-making at the ICC level to foster participation of female cricketers during pregnancy and after childbirth remains, as highlighted by The Cricket Monthly, a talking point.
Asked if the governing body is likely to initiate discussions on formulating directives to encourage pregnant players and mothers to continue their playing careers following the interest generated by cricketer-mothers in this World Cup, Allardice said, "It's a good point your raise. It's been a noticeable development in this competition.
"Most of the changes and the accommodations that would be made would be at the national level, with the arrangements around the national team. We would make the arrangements around the tournaments here but the ability for mothers to be able to continue to play cricket and raise young families is something that I think each of the members is checking in their own way and it's good to see the progress made in that area.
"We've got a series of meetings at the end of this at the end of this tournament back in Dubai next week. And I'm sure that that will be one of the issues that will be raised at the debrief of this tournament."