6 women bikers ride across the country to spread the message of gender equality
Six women bikers vroom across the country on hot wheels to spread the message of gender equality
Six women on Royal Enfield Bullet bikes are raising eyebrows as they cut across the country, spreading the message of gender equality. The women, Lavanya N, Merilyn Hamlet, Surya Ravindran, Seetha V Nair, Febina K B and Sangeetha Sikhamani who are all employees of Federal Bank, have started off from Ernakulam on August 1. Their 20-day expedition will take them across Ernakulam, Coimbatore, Salem Bangalore, Chittradurg, Hubli, Kolhapur, Pune, Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Mount Abu, Udaipur, Chittorgarh, and Jaipur and will culminate in Delhi.
Angels rev up
The 'motorcycle angels' as they are dubbed, (who says angels have wings? sometimes they have wheels too) will have rest days in Kochi, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. During this time, they will meet women achievers who will motivate and felicitate them. In Coimbatore they are slated to meet S Lakshmi, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Coimbatore.
The equality message
The women will ride for approximately 5.5 hours a day, beginning at 6.30 am and winding up by 12 pm. Said Sangeetha Sikhamani, "This idea germinated when Merilyn's bike riding video went viral. We were heartened by the positive response. Last year, the bank had organised a car rally in Ernakulam."
Rajanarayanan N, vice-president marketing and investor relations of the bank, said, "We have 40 per cent women employees overall. There are women in every cadre of the bank. Through this bike ride we want to pass on a message that we are an equal opportunity employer. There are some stopovers on the 20-day route which will be used to promote events like the bikers meeting women achievers who will felicitate them. This will reinforce the message of women's empowerment and equality."
A Mumbai stop
Biker Merilyn Hamlet said, "I started biking out of curiosity. A friend of mine bought a bike and I tried it. I was hooked; it was the beginning in fact of several bike trips." In the midst of their journey, these women are scheduled to reach Mumbai in the second half of the day on August 11 at Dadar Club Banquet Hall. In Mumbai, the riders will be staying at a Vile Parle hotel for a day, after which they vroom towards Surat.
The women are enthused about the interactions on the way. With one day gone, their appetite has been whetted by the curious questions thrown at them. "When we talk to people we will learn about different perspectives, especially of the women who we hope to inspire or motivate in our very small way. Listening to their life stories or anecdotes and subsequently ours… it will be good to exchange views. In the end, equality and power may mean different things to different women," they said.
The glass ceiling
Seetha V Nair said that an exchange can spark an interest in riding bikes for some women. She added, "My affinity for motorcycles started 18 years ago when I came across an article that spoke of lady managers who rode motorcycles." It is not just the mission or the destination that is all important. Mo'bike riding itself is such an all boys' culture club, that even inadvertently women riding a bike are making a political statement. There are glass ceilings to smash and bastions to storm, and this is not just in the corporate world.
For some like Lavanya N, mo'bike riding is more personal. She said "I discovered the motorcycle in my desire to travel and in my quest to do something different." That sounds profound a bit like 'Zen and the art of motorcycle riding'. In this instance, make that women and the art of motorcycle riding.
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