Commemorating International Women’s Day, female bikers take to Delhi streets
By Geeta Goindi
New Delhi, March 24, 2018 – Commemorating International Women’s Day, scores of female bikers took to the streets of south Delhi in an impressive display of gender equality.
It was the sixth edition of the All Women Power Rally, formerly called the All Women Bike Rally, organized by Navbharat Times, an event that is growing in stature as much as size. The theme, ‘Jee Befikar’ (live fearlessly), was apt encouraging women to shatter stereotypes and forge ahead bravely.
On hand this year were courageous women of the BSF (Border Security Force) who were part of the Seema Bhavani squad of bikers which enthralled viewers at the Republic Day Parade on Rajpath, earlier in January. It was quite a sight to see them at the rally proudly donning their uniform with pink helmets, joining over 1,000 female riders as scores of onlookers cheered them on.
Among the special guests and speakers were: Delhi Commission for Women Chief Swati Maliwal; film actor Ajay Devgan; film actress Ileana D’Cruz; acid attack survivor Laxmi; triple talaq crusader Shayara Bano; and television artistes Jennifer Winget and Sehban Azim of the upcoming serial, ‘Bepanah’.
In a heart-wrenching address, Maliwal spoke of the recent sexual assault of an eight-month-old baby girl who sustained horrific injuries. “Her pain and anguish is the reason we are involved so passionately in efforts to ensure safety for all women and girls”, she told the audience. “This is not the story of one baby girl. Everyday, I come across such victims. They scream, I scream. We are all in pain”, she said.
Lamenting that “Delhi is the rape capital of the world”, Maliwal dwelt on the importance of her campaign, Rape Roko (stop rape), which calls for a fast-track court system whereby if anyone rapes a child, the culprit must be hanged within six months.
A former software engineer, now a leading advocate for women’s rights, Maliwal commended the female bike riders at the rally for shattering stereotypes.
Devgan, who flagged off the event, cautioned participants against emulating his bike stunts in feature films “not because you can’t do it, but because it requires practice”, he said.
“I am happy to see so many women and girls out there who are participating. I’m very proud of you all. But, remember one thing: follow the rules, don’t try to race, be safe”, he said, to loud cheers.
Laxmi, now a proud wife and mother, pledged to join the women bikers next year. Always in the forefront when it comes to speaking for the rights of acid attack victims, she told the large crowd at the rally, “Women do not want respect. I do not want it. We want equality. Respect will automatically follow”.
Ileana spoke of her experience with riding bikes while shooting for the acclaimed film, ‘Barfi’.
“The message is clear – how strong are you”, she asked the women bikers. “This is awesome”, she said, about the rally. “I feel so proud and I am so glad to be part of it and just cheer you on and say you totally rock”.