Participants at India's first Walk in Her Shoes (Photo: Bismillah Geelani)

At a public park in New Delhi, dozens of young men and women are gearing up to take part in a special walk.

It’s a Heel-a-thon” or a walk in heels.

Everyone is dressed in white T shirts and all of them are wearing high heels.

It’s a rainy day but they haven’t let the weather dampen their enthusiasm.

Nineteen year-old Gaurav Kumar is in the first batch of 5 walkers that has just been flagged off.

He walks a few yards and comes back limping and laughing.

“Men can’t walk in heels. I thought we are stronger and we will beat them easily but now I realize that it’s just the opposite, they are far ahead of us, so claps for girls,” he said.

But many others like Aman Deep not only completed the walk but even won prizes. 

“It was painful but I thought of my mother and sister who walk around whole day in heels. They do everything and never complain. That gave me strength. I salute them,” he said.

The Walk titled “Walk India in Her Shoes” is the Indian version of the Walk a mile in her shoes- a global campaign seeking to raise awareness about violence against women.

The idea of holding the event in India caught the imagination of Footwear designer Swati Mehrotra.

 “Heels represent both our pain and pleasure and I thought making men wear heels and live the experiences of a woman for a few moments was a good way to make them understand the pain of being a woman in an unequal society,” she said.

Besides walking in heels the participants were made to do other things that are considered to be a woman’s job-like shopping and babysitting.

Later, in a group discussion they all shared their understanding and ideas of gender equality.

Among those cheering for the walkers, was personality development mentor Rita Gangwani.

 “They will definitely understand the positions of a woman, how many roles she has to play, how difficult it is for her and how she maintains the balance while playing all these roles. And if they understand this they will automatically realize how important it is for her to be treated equally,” she said.

The Organisers are planning to hold the event in several other cities in the coming months.

They also intend to follow it with a similar campaign highlighting the issues concerning men.

Footwear designer Swati Mehrotra says maintaining the balance is the key to make the campaign successful.

“The life of men also isn’t that easy and women need to understand that so what we will do is we will make women live like men for a day and feel the pressures and problems they go through. I think that makes more sense and helps understand the question of gender equally much better,” she said.  
 

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