Vadodara city came together to Run for Women’s Safety, an event organised to mark the 152nd birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand and spread the message of safety of women. The event, flagged off by actress Zeenat Aman, saw participation from various citizens of Vadodara, including women, children, disabled persons and politicians.
The event, organised by BJP Councillor Shailesh Sotta’s trust — Balaji Education Medical and Charitable Trust — aims to promote the message of women’s safety in the city. Zeenat Aman, who has been actively involved in the election campaigning for Congress for several years now, flagged off the event at Waghodia road in Vadodara in the presence of Mayor Bharat Shah, former Mayor Dr Jyoti Pandya, Maharani Radhikaraje Gaekwad, VMC Standing Committee Chairman Hitendra Patel, Opposition leader Chandrakant Shrivastav, BJP MP Balkrishna Shukla, BJP City chief Bharat Dangar, among others. The run, consisting of a manned and barricaded 8-km stretch for women and 4-km stretch for children, saw the participation of over 40,000 citizens. Aman, who had the audience cheering for her when she screamed out “Aap jaisa koi meri zindagi mein aaye…”, spoke of the importance of respecting and protecting women. “We all have mothers, sisters and daughters at home and it is the need of the hour to ensure that women in the country are respected and safe,” she told the spectators before flagging off the run.
Radhikaraje Gaekwad, who was invited as a special guest, too stressed on the need to create awareness about women’s safety. “I keep reading in newspapers about young girls, as little as seven years of age, being raped. I keep reading up on how to counsel my girls to ensure that they are aware about what is right and wrong. I have begun making them understand how they must be aware that nobody is allowed to touch them,” Radhikaraje said.
While the prominent women of the city cheered the runners from the stage, wheelchair-bound Malti Shah, 48-year-old resident of Harni road, participated in the disabled persons category. Shah said the event was a big encouragement for women to come out and show their strength. “It is an extremely important event to send across a message to women about their safety and strength. I will go through the 8 km stretch on my wheelchair in order to tell other women that if I can do it, so can you. It will encourage many to come out of their shells, which is essential to tackle all evils,” Shah said.
Jyoti Pandya and MLA Manisha Vakil stressed on the need to inculcate values among children right from a tender age. Pandya said, “It is important for parents to play a keen role in ensuring that the culture and values of our society do not disintegrate. Women’s safety is the need of the hour.” MLA Vakil, however, said that the values need to be taught to sons and daughters alike. “It is important for parents to teach their children – even boys – the importance of respecting women so that the values are imbibed in the formative years.