By Oxfam Trailwalker

#BalanceForBetter at Oxfam Trailwalker

In a display of what women can do, Neeraja Bydipudi joined us as one of the Bike Security Marshals at this year's Oxfam Trailwalker edition in Bengaluru. Patrolling the trail at day and night, to ensure our walkers' safety, she assumed a role not typically associated with women. And are we proud!

Achieving equality has been our driving force at Oxfam Trailwalker - our team, our walkers, our volunteers, all speak in one voice, and as the International Women's Day 2019 approaches, we pen down some of these voices below.

"Equality to me means freedom of being, irrespective of gender, colour, and an unrestrainable spirit of compassion for all. I have seen surprising predicaments take course where things are bound by definitions and routine. To me that's equality: the freedom to be gay and be best parents, respect to stand for your partner without judgement, the choice to inspire others to break all bounds and join hands in humanity more than anything else. Equality to me is to accept my girlfriend just the way she is..with the bindi and the tattoo and the red hair and that her best friend is a guy, and that being a lady, I can ride across the world with people smiling back and cheering at me. No boundaries, no doubts, just happiness and hope.



This women's' day I want to ride past all established beliefs of divide, gender roles and social stigma, to see the dawn of hope light up the very inner recesses of every human being and turn the wheel of transformation. Let our voices ring out loud, let a "no" ring out clear where "no" is what I feel, let education shower wisdom and potential, let there be powerful decision making, let there be limitless pursuance of opportunities. #Balanceforbetter for a happy tomorrow.
" Neeraja writes.

Vinoth Kumar from our very own Oxfam Trailwalker team has been working with Oxfam for more than 5 years. Imbibing what we stand for, he believes that women are not meant to be confined to kitchens. "Women are in space creating wonders.", he exclaims.

"Gender equality is when we stop talking about genders and equality in the same line. We will stop doing this only when we stop classifying one gender as a weaker gender." says Namrata Rai Chamling, who just completed the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker in 19:34:37 hrs in Bengaluru, as part of the Fastest All Women's Team.



Red FM's RJ Shaayan Bhattacharya's view on this resonates with Namrata's. "Gender equality is when we stop calling them female CEOs, female bikers, female comedians or female pilots; and we just refer to them as CEOs, bikers, managers, comedians or pilots."

"To script a win, you have to go against the odds." - Citing her personal experience of completing the 100km Oxfam Trailwalker recently, Monisha Ramaiya believes that when one has their eyes set on the destination, no hurdle can deter them from reaching the goal, that's all a person needs; gender is just a social construct.

Vandana Pujary has walked at Oxfam Trailwalker twice. In addition to her regular job at Thomson Reuters, she is the co-owner of Mumbai's iconic Gokul Bite and has been pivotal in the launch of their new venture Gokul 9. "Be strong because when they say you can't, you have to."she says, a motto she has adequately proven herself.



Ritu Mendiratta is heading the Human Resources team at Oxfam India. She believes that #BalanceforBetter is something we need to imbibe in our thoughts and pass it on to the coming generations, in addition to showing commitment through actions. Her daughter, Aastha, is developing a strong voice of her own right from a young age - "It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I'm not going to be silent."

"Men and women are meant to complement each other not put each other down!" is Smita's take on #GenderEqualityShe believes in living and letting live, with respect, as key to a balanced world. Making a statement at her Oxfam Trailwalker stint, she walked the 100kms in a saree!

Ujwal Dhankute, a budding barefoot runner, and a two-time Trailwalker, states that he 'does not see gender as the most significant fact of human existence.', a strongly worded opinion that makes us wonder how we even got into these discussions when we are all simply supposed to be equal regardless of gender, race, sexuality and any other parameters we put on the map.


"Today women have their presence in every field of work, however, there is still a stigma associated with being a woman and the work they can doAlthough the gender gap at work and in society has decreased but it will take many more years to be a 'gender equal society' and organisations like Oxfam play a prominent role in diminishing the gender inequality from the society.", he shares.

In a reversal of breaking stereotypes, Anup has been enjoying immense success as a Zumba instructor. Voicing his opinion, he shares - “Without equality there cannot be liberty. Nature has designed everything to be in balance, and the same holds true for gender. No reforms can be successful when nearly half the population of the country is left behind - true development happens only when there is a balance between both the genders. I truly feel that gender balance in a working nation is actually the best recipe for success and overall development. There hasn’t been a greater time than NOW to set gender bias aside and work as a unified nation, for woman is an epitome of equality, she gives birth to both genders, man only walks half her path."

Women and men alike, who choose to tread a path that is uncommon, who choose to listen to their inner selves and stand up for whatever they want, who march forward spreading the message of equality, are the real agents of change - breaking stereotypes and paving way for a gender neutral world!

We acknowledge and admire these voices, and wish more power to all those who are working towards an 'Equal' India in their respective capacities.