mid-day editorial: Running towards women's empowerment

Just two days ago, Milind Soman took centre stage at an announcement of the Pinkathon running event for women. The Pinkathon has grown, in stature and the number of women participating, through the years. What started off as an initiative to get women out on the roads to run, has now grown exponentially into a high-profile initiative, with good prizes, and huge opportunities for winners.

Pinkathon is no longer a race; it is a movement that fed into the first tentative steps women took on the long distance running boom in the country.

One is happy to state that things have come to such a pass that women may no longer need special events for long distance running. Today, marathons have a very substantial number of women runners. We see more women on the roads training and even just running for fun and pleasure. Check out how the running bug has bitten India — it is evident every morning in Mumbai, especially as marathon season comes around.

So many women runners are on the roads, they are taking ‘loops’ of certain circuits, they are on the roads as early as the men. At times, at odd hours of the day, when they have time to pursue their daily run.

While people may dismiss this as insignificant, it is important that women do this. They are claiming a public space they did not do earlier. Many women still need ‘permission’ from husband or the larger family to wear fitness attire or train for sports. It is shocking that this continues.

Alone off the road, they are seen as vulnerable. Running is their way of boosting confidence, self-esteem, courage and claiming ownership of their bodies and the ability to make life choices.

For many women, it is not a competition; it is not a stopwatch or timings. It is freedom.

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