The highly anticipated event which saw the participation of hundreds of women was marred by controversies.
On 22nd January, the University of Delhi’s North Campus was filled with scores of women who participated in the DUSU Skytouch Women Marathon. The marathon was organised by Mahamedha Nagar, the Secretary of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU), and Uma Shankar, the Joint-Secretary of DUSU in association with Sky Touch Foundation. The aim of the marathon was to question the tax imposed on the sanitary napkins and to remove the stigma surrounding the concept of menstruation.
Popular Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar attended the event in the capacity of a Chief Guest. He flagged off the event after addressing the participants as well the audience. Speaking about the importance of menstrual hygiene and women empowerment, he said, “Even though this is an all-girls marathon, I’m happy to see that many guys are here too. Today, we are here not to just run but to have an open and honest conversation about menstrual health.” He also promoted his upcoming film Pad Man, which is inspired from the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham, a social activist who invented the low-cost sanitary pad-making machine.
Akshay Kumar and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) DUSU members launched 10 sanitary pad vending machines. “By the next month we are aiming to install sanitary pad vending machines in all Delhi University colleges, regardless of their affiliation with DUSU,” Mahamedha Nagar told DU Beat.
The marathon started after a delay of two hours, which caused inconvenience for the participants. “While I have drained all my energy, it looks like the organisers are only concerned about Akshay Kumar,” a participant complained.
Citing security reasons, the Delhi Police changed the original four-kilometre route, only a few hours prior to the run. The marathon, which started on a high note, fell into troubled waters by the end of the day. Confusion arose when multiple participants claimed to have come first. When no one could be credited with a position, it was decided that the top 100 runners will be called for another one-kilometre mini-marathon, which is tentatively scheduled for the upcoming weekend.
When asked about the unexpected turn of events, Mahamedha Nagar explained, “Due to the mismanagement of the Delhi Police, the participants ran the distance from two different directions. They all covered the same distance on the same route, but from opposite sides. This caused major indecisiveness. We didn’t want to be unfair to anyone; hence, we will now have another marathon. I’m happy to go an extra mile to ensure fairness rather than award anyone for the sake of convenience.”
In spite of logistical and managerial issues, the marathon succeeded in inserting the tabooed subject of menstruation into popular conversation, which is an achievement in itself.
Image Credits: Ayush Chauhan for DU Beat