In Focus 24th February, 2015

A Bike Rally To Fight Against Gender-biased Sex Ratio.

As an intern in Breakthrough, the Mission Hazaar Bike Rally was the first event I attended. It was  part of a bigger campaign focusing on gender-biased sex ratio. The State of Haryana has the lowest child sex ratio in the country with 830 girls for every 1000 boys. I already knew about this problem in India, but I have to say that I have discovered it a few months ago, when I watched a documentary on TV. As a foreigner, the fact that babies or fetuses can be removed from this world because of their biological sex seems kind of surreal to me. Even if gender discrimination is universal, I had never thought of it this way.

Seeing all those bikers on a Sunday morning at 6:30 AM ready to go to Rohtak to make a point about the gender-biased sex ratio was really impressive. We could feel the excitement in the air, everyone was so enthusiastic! I thought how huge the organization must have been to gather all those people together for a cause. But it is true that I would have liked to see more women as bikers. Seeing less women bikers showed that there are still lots of stereotypes to break in every part of the society.

The bikers who are all part of the Free Souls Rider community left at 8:00 AM and after two hours arrived at the Chotu Ram Stadium, Rohtak. I arrived a little earlier and met so many people from Breakthrough including the team from Haryana and student volunteers, which I also found impressive. After the arrival of the bikers, we all gathered in front of the stage and after a little while danced to the music of Nagada. Then, one thousand balloons were released into the sky, a symbol of the unequal sex ratio and all the missing girls.

After that, a play was performed as well as presentations of women who are fighting against gender social stereotypes. Thanks to one of my co-workers who was translating for me from Hindi to English, I was able to understand what was going on. Several things touched me the most, such as a woman who was a bus driver. Everyone looked really enthusiastic about her struggle to break the social practice that only men can drive a bus. This is what struck me, because it is so normal for me to see female bus drivers that I never wondered if it was a male or female work. It made me realize even more how rooted those social norms are and how difficult it is to fight them back. In fact, you have to fight against a whole society and it demands a lot of courage and self-confidence. I don’t really know if this event changed the mentalities of those who attended it, but I think and I hope that if only one person gives the example, it will give others some courage. It is through those little changes that a society can slowly but surely evolve, like a little seed growing day after day.

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