A special night run in the city seeks to create awareness about women’s safety in public spaces.
If one were to imagine a man jogging down the deserted city streets of Mumbai in the middle of the night, it may turn a few heads because night time running is not very common in the city. However, if one were to replace the image with that of a woman, it is almost unheard of. Women’s safety at night is an often-normalised issue even in metropolitan cities. And the first question that a woman complaining about sexual harassment after sundown hears is “What was she doing out so late?”
It is to create awareness about these issues that Uactive, a start-up that promotes running as a social activity, and Akshara Centre, which works for women’s empowerment, have come together for a second time for the Urban Feet — Night Run for Women’s Safety. “We’re promoting the run as a fun activity, and there is no competition as such. People will mostly just run as a group. This kills two birds with one stone since it is a fun physical activity that people can take part in, and it is also for a noteworthy cause,” says Atish Chhabria, co-founder of Uactive.
The 7.3-km run will find people from all walks of life — from women who Akshara works with and fitness enthusiasts to members of
the Women’s Commission and Mumbai police. “We also have a number of influencers and celebrities who come to promote the cause. Aside from CEOs of important companies, there are also celebrity fitness trainers like Yasmin Karachiwala. Last year, we also had Bollywood celebs like Shabana Azmi and Rahul Bose running with us,” Atish adds.
For the women from Akshara, this is a night to reclaim the public spaces, as they stay out all night. “These are women who are restricted to their homes after eight or nine in the evening. So, this one day, they stay out all night and take in the city in all its glory. They hire a couple of buses and take a tour of South Mumbai, Chowpatty and other areas after they are done with the run,” explains Atish.
Spreading a message about women’s safety may be vitally important, but not when it compromises the very safety that the team is fighting for. This is why, Atish and his team partner up with cab services in the city to ensure that everyone can get to the starting point and also get home safely, since the run ends at 2 am.
“We partnered with Padmini taxis last time, since they are an all-women taxi service. This time round we are in talks with some companies for free or discounted rides. At the same time, we are setting up car-pool meet-ups for the participants, so that everyone can go home in groups. The Mumbai police will also help us to ensure that the run goes smoothly. Some of them are even running with us,” says Atish, adding, “We’ve also added a special #shewillrise campaign wherein each woman who joins can bring along a man with her for no added registration fee. Last year, there weren’t that many men participating. But for this cause to be fruitful, everyone must come together irrespective of gender.”
While this is the second time that the event is taking place, the participation rate is more than double that of last year’s run, according to Atish, who elaborates, “We had around 350 or so participants last year. This year, though we’ve had more that 700 registrations already and are anticipating another 100 of them to roll in before next week. Overall, I think promises to be a night to remember.”
On January 13, 10.30 pm onwards,
At Bandra Kurla Complex,
To register, log on to www.uactiv.com