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One Woman’s Walk for Gender Equality

Pull out your smartphone and go to your health app. What’s your daily walking average? Hopefully your average is more than mine, but I doubt any of ours will match that of Srishti Bakshi’s, an Indian woman who recently began walking across the entire continent of India. She didn’t do it to reduce her risk of cardiovascular disease, either.

Bakshi left her marketing job in Hong Kong and returned to India to to make the 2,361 mile trek, which she hopes will help raise awareness about her country’s gender equality problem. Bakshi will walk for 260 days, as well as talk to and educate those she meets along the way. Bakshi said she will participate in women’s rights and financial and digital literacy workshops. She will also address health and hygiene issues.

Before Bakshi left, she said, “Gender equality, political power, economic freedom and women entrepreneurship are buzz words, but women’s safety is the very basic of existence.”

Bakshi, who has previously worked in management roles for companies like Redbull and Otterbox, has also created Project CrossBow, an app that allows people to take part in her walk.

The app, CrossBow Miles, enables users from all over the world to add their steps to the cause, which Bakshi hopes will ultimately lead to a cumulative 1 billion steps.

Bakshi has partnered with organizations like Google to have access to modules and teaching tools en route. These tools will vary depending on who Bakshi will be teaching. In rural areas, for example, women who haven’t learned to read or write are being taught to use the internet, while women in cities are being inspired to join the cause and make a difference.
Bakshi is planning to hold 110 of these workshops before she finishes the walk in April, as she currently has 239 days left.

Bakshi was inspired, like many others, by the 2012 Delhi gang rape, though she didn’t start taking concrete steps until July 2016, when a 35-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter were gang-raped just off the Indian highway.

Bakshi she said that upon hearing the news, she “lost [her] balance and just wanted to go home. It disgusted me. My husband said that if I felt so passionately about the subject I should do something right now.” Afterwards, the couple went out and bought a whiteboard to brainstorm how Bakshi could make a difference.

Not much later, CrossBow now has the backing of the Indian President, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, who Bakshi plans to meet when she passes through Delhi.

Throughout her journey, Bakshi will be documenting the feelings of those with whom she meets and speaks. When she reaches Delhi in February, she will present this journal to President Shri Ram Nath Kovind.

Women like Bakshi are helping to encourage other Indians to push their government into making necessary changes, and it’s working. Panic buttons will soon be required on all public service vehicles and all mobile phones sold in the country. All mobile phones will also soon be sold with GPS.

Bakshi has 239 days to go. Support her incredible mission by adding your steps here.

Featured Image by Giuseppe Milo on Flickr

Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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