New Delhi: The Directorate of Education, Government of NCT of Delhi conducted an 11 km Cyclothon in partnership with the United Nations in India, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to champion the cause of gender equality and environmental sustainability ahead of the International Women’s Day.
The International Women’s Day Cyclothon witnessed women, men and the transgender community from all walks of life come together for gender equality and for making cities safer and inclusive for women and the transgender community, as per a press release from the Directorate of Education, Delhi Government. Himanshu Gupta, Director, Directorate of Education – Govt. of NCT of Delhi said, “It is very important for us to bring gender equality in our society and we also know that Delhi is facing issues with pollution. So, we thought why not conduct an event which will help us counter both issues. I would like to thank the UN and celebrities, who came forward and associated with us.”
The first Indian woman to win an Olympic Medal Karnam Malleswari also graced the event with her presence. Speaking about the value of sports, the former weightlifter said, “It feels amazing to see so many people come here to take part in the cyclothon. Cycling is great for health and the environment as well. This initiative by the Delhi Government is very important. The government has been supporting the growth of women’s sports a lot. And sport is the best way to achieve gender equality in our society.”
Flagging off the cyclothon, Shombi Sharp, United Nations Resident Coordinator, India, spoke about countering gender inequality and climate change. “Women’s rights are human rights. Yet, as we gather here today, these rights are not consistently afforded to everyone, and especially not to women and girls facing other challenges and crises. Sports, including cycling, is an important enabler of sustainable development. The UN recognises the growing contribution of sports to the empowerment of women and of young people, individuals and communities. Under the banner of “Unity ride for gender equality, and a cleaner, greener, more sustainable future for all.”
“It is a wonderful honour to be here. I would like to wish everyone a Happy International Women’s Day on behalf of the United Nations. Ensuring gender equality is the most important thing we can do to achieve our collective aspirations. We also have to solve the climate change problem and cycling is an important part of our fight against climate change,” Sharp said.
“It was my dream to cycle in Delhi and I am so happy that my dream is getting fulfilled today. I am from Assam and I wanted to go around Delhi on a cycle. By participating in such events, the people on the road will understand that even we (transgenders) are human beings. These events will help us break stereotypes as we can get closer to the general public, said Priyanka Sharma, a resident of Delhi.
Simran Arora, consultant – Transgender Division, Backward Division, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, said, “The cyclothon is a great initiative to promote gender equality. I am very excited to be here. Being a transgender, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to be a part of sports events. This cyclothon is an excellent initiative as it promotes gender equality. Our efforts of cycling here might provide opportunities for future generations.”
The International Women’s Day Cyclothon was a celebration of inclusion, freedom, unity and hope and it showcased the spirit of the capital city while spreading awareness about gender equality and leading a healthy lifestyle.