Mangalore, India, March 25th: A unique event and a motorcycle rally was flagged off today at the Forum Fiza Mall at Mangalore. With emphasis on women’s safety issues and freedom, the rally marked an important chapter for women who ride motorcycles or two-wheelers. Symbolically, riding motorcycles is a great way to empower women. India, a country where women were traditionally expected to remain a mute spectator to the joy of motorcycling, perceptions are changing for the better and how! Today’s event titled, ‘Heels on Wheels’ aptly marks the fact that times are changing.
If you consider the perspective that riding motorcycles is a great way to empower women; then these events are a great platform to shout it out loud that, ‘any girl who loves to ride motorcycles is in-charge of her freedom, independence and has the courage to follow her dreams.’
The event saw more than 20 women participate at the mall. Where women from different walks of life spoke about their experiences. Breaking traditional gender stereotypes and spreading awareness about equality for women in all aspects of our society was part of the agenda. One of the bikernis, “Pooja Jain”, who has a First degree, Black Belt in Karate and her friend conducted a short demonstration to show women how to guard themselves against any type of attackers using basic self-defense tactics. She plans on conducting a workshop in the future where women can participate and learn basic self-defense which then they can impart to other women. When it came to the ride, the organizers gave emphasis on road safety and all the participants had basic riding gears in place while riding their motorcycles.
Heels On Wheels was flagged off by the Police Commissioner of Mangalore city, Mr. M Chandra Sekar. Wholeheartedly supporting the initiative, he was of the opinion that the rally not only marks women’s freedom and empowers them to live their dreams. He also took to the stage to speak about road safety and create awareness for riding safely everyday.
Chandra Sekar, Police Commission, Mangalore City, “Along with independence, there is a need to create awareness regarding traffic safety and about the importance of following traffic rules. Youngsters today who go to college in bikes without wearing helmets consider it a matter of bravery and question why they have to wear helmets. There is a thin line between bravery and foolishness. One accident can make us crippled or may take away our life. Hence I urge college students to wear helmets and not cross the speed limits.”
Krithi Uchil, one of the bikernis and organizers of the ‘Heels On Wheels’ event said that, “This type of events have been done in other parts of the country and we wanted to hold one such event in Mangalore. The idea is to reduce and eventually remove any discrimination that exists in our society between men and women. This was the first time we’ve done this in Mangalore and we’re happy with the response and the success from being able to spread the message and create awareness and reduce gender stereotyping in our society.”
Vasudha Shenoy, a homemaker said, “Riding two wheeler makes me independent. I can go anywhere I want and I don’t have to necessarily depend on the men in my family to help me when I need to run errands. As a homemaker my responsibilities stretch for more than 12-15hrs in a day. Riding two wheelers gave me the confidence that I need not depend on others and it gave me the confidence that I am free to go where I choose to and do all that I wish!”
Pooja Jain, Martial Arts expert and a participant at the event said that, “I’m quite proud of the fact that my dad taught me to ride my motorcycle. I’ve been riding for only 3 years and I love it.” She’s been practicing martial arts for over 10 years and feels that things are changing and people are starting to think more progressively about women and their aspirations to do many things which were once reserved only for men.
Aishwarya, Tejaswini and Sanjana were three enthusiastic riders with whom I had an opportunity to interact at the event said that they’ve been riding more than 8 years. They also commute on their motorcycles everyday to work and although they haven’t done any major tours, they aspire to ride around the country and explore the world on two wheels someday.
Shawn Fernandez, representative for United Bikers of Mangalore and one of the organizers of the event said that, “This has been long overdue because Mangalore is no way short of women riders. The giles and ladies out here are always enthusiastic about all they do and their heart is in the right place when they do their bit of charity work through the events they organize; be it in their college events or through extra curricular activities. However due to family and peer pressure they have always been hesitant in coming out on their own. This should be a start in getting them united where they see, that as groups of like minded friends, well, the sky is the limit!”
Sandeep, GM, Forum Fiza Mall, “As a motorcyclist myself, I’m happy to be a part of this event and we at Forum Fiza Mall have always been supportive of such social initiatives and will continue to support these events in the future.”
Heels On Wheels rally was flagged off and the Mangalore Bikernis chapter was supported by various other motorcycling clubs from Mangalore city. While men outnumbered women on this ride, everyone who came were highly appreciative of this event and it was evident in their enthusiasm and energy. The entire group rode for about 8-9 kms around Mangalore city in a proper formation and a police escort before returning to the Mall to end the ride. At TheMotorLife, we hope that in the months to follow, women will participate in far greater numbers to support this cause.
Heels On Wheels, was jointly organized by Mangalore Bikernis, Team Zero-Gravity and United Bikers of Mangalore. Mangalore Bikernis is the Mangalore city chapter of the pan-India women-only motorcycling club and association known as, “The Bikerni.”
Heels On Wheels 2016 Video:
Images: Kishan Rao
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