We’ve heard of boys running after girls, but the upcoming ‘chase’ is for a novel initiative — gender equality. Close to 3,000 boys from across city colleges will run for women at the Marina Beach this morning. The event that is organised as part of the HeForShe campaign was launched by UN Women a few years ago and has celebrities like Emma Watson lending their voices to the movement.
Put together by Schneider Electric India, one of the 10 corporates around the world that works closely with HeForShe and city-based training company Ezone India, the event has been in the pipeline for three months and has been timed just ahead of Women’s Day (March 8). “We visited 20 colleges to talk to male students about the cause both in Chennai and in places like Coimbatore and Erode,” says Joseph Napoleon, Associate GM (HR) at Schneider Electric and the HeForShe advocate appointed by the company.
While he admits that they faced some initial reluctance with a few students asking why there were so many causes and days dedicated to women and rarely any for men, there was an overwhelming majority eager to participate.
Joseph shares, “Large batches of male students came forward as a gesture of respect to women and wanted to take part and support this cause.”
Ravindra N Bharadwaj, director of Chennai Manufacturing at Schneider who is also involved in organising the event, adds, “This was especially after we asked the boys: what are ‘you’ doing today for gender equality? Most hadn’t thought about it until they heard the question.”
Among the 10 participating colleges are Sathyabama University, Panimalar Institute of Technology, Loyola College and Madras School of Social Work. One of the youngsters eager to lace up his sneakers is 19-year-old Cedric Fernandez. And from the adjectives he uses, it’s evident that he’s pretty excited. “I think the idea is epic. It’s made a lot of us in class think about what we can do to make women feel more comfortable. There are only three girls studying in our Mechanical Engineering department of over 700. I think I’ll start there.”
The HeForShe run will kick off at 6 am today opposite Queen Mary’s College. There will be a Zumba warm-up at 5.15 am