“This is the first time I ran a marathon for a cause, and it has been most life-affirming and positive,” says Mithra Suresh, who is based in Hyderabad. She participated in the 10k marathon organized by IIM at Calicut, where she is originally from.
“As a woman, a lot changed for me after the December 16 incident in Delhi. Somehow, it felt like a clarion call, a reason for me to stand up and say, ‘It is enough’,” Mithra speaks with conviction. This is where the ‘running for a cause’ came from. Mithra was able to raise an incredible Rs. 26,500/- for ECF, all of it through her friends and acquaintances. “The most interesting thing for me was the process of getting people to know the cause I was running for,” she says, and explains that not being present on any social networks like Facebook and twitter posed quite a challenge!
So how did she let people know? Mithra has interesting and thought-provoking experiences to share. “I started speaking personally to all the women I know, yes, every woman I know….I told them about ECF and the work they do, explained my reasons for wanting to run for ECF and asked them to be a part of this event by donating for ECF’s work,” smiles Mithra. She later went on to involve all the men she knew in the conversation as well.
The women she approached were all very enthusiastic and passionate about the “cause”, but most of them showed a reluctance to be vocal or proactive about it, which was quite baffling. The women were apprehensive about having these conversations in the presence of their husbands and did not even want to remember any personal experiences/incidences they had. “This brought home to me that this problem has deeper and darker roots in our society.”
When Mithra spoke to men, the main reaction from them was “yes we understand and are sympathetic to this wrong treatment women face, but it doesn’t happen with me – it is not something I do”. This kind of thinking, where the problem was an “outside problem” made Mithra see again the need and importance of a larger awareness and sensitization across the society. “I personally am very supportive of ECF’s approach, which is focussed on educating and informing, rather than on reforming. They are about including men in the dialogue,” says Mithra.
So the Calicut marathon has been run and a fair amount of funds have been raised for ECF. What are the next steps for Mithra? “I would like to keep my relationship with ECF going beyond this marathon,” she says enthusiastically. “I want to talk about ECF’s work in different forums and raise awareness about this stellar work. I want to look at any initiative which will give me a platform to speak up and point people towards ECF,” she concludes.