Of all the women’s issues the Stayfree DNA I Can Women’s Half Marathon sought to highlight, the most popular support came for the education of the girl child.
Apart from hundreds of women, several members women’s organisations ran to motivate their community and the society at large to change their outlook towards the girl child. And, the issue of education of girl children topped the list.
Over 70 women from the Jain Terapanth Kanya Mandal participated in the Half-Marathon to make a point about their community’s attitude towards women’s emancipation.
Part of a tight-knit Jain community, the head of the Kanya Mandal in Mumbai, Jaishree Badala said, “Women always get the bitter end of the bargain within their community, as they are married off early and their careers are put on hold or ended completely. Even a metro city like Mumbai is no exception to the rule, with girls getting married as early as the tender age of 19. And following marriage, their career aspirations often hit the roadblock of filial responsibilities.”
Hoping that participation of women from their community in sporting events like a marathon will help change the mindset of the heads of families, Badala added, “It will show them that women can achieve anything if they have the drive and determination.”
Badala has been actively working for the cause for the last 37 years. She and the other members of the group donned white and orange dresses and shouted slogans like ‘Ooncha Padh, Ooncha Kad’ (study high, grow high) and ‘Jeevan ki Rakhsha, Kanyaon Ki Suraksha’ (save life, save girls).
The organisation, which has centres all over the country, as well as in Nepal and London, has tied up with several city-based gynaecologists to help spread the message by holding seminars, rallies, chat shows to further the cause.
They even hold a Limca Book World Record for postal stamps on the issue of women empowerment. “The many atrocities being committed against women stem from the fact that they are not educated. Through our campaigns, we hope people open up their minds and the ‘want-a-boy’ attitude changes,’’ she said.