Veteran shooters aim for women’s empowerment through sports

March 8th, 2008 - 8:43 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Prakashi Tomar and Chandro Tomar, septuagenarian shooters from a village in Uttar Pradesh, are looking beyond air and sport pistols as they aim for women’s empowerment in the country. Their never-say-die spirit convinces them that they, event at the age of 78, can still do a lot to empower women by exposing them to different sporting activities.

“It was the sense of empowerment that compelled us to opt for shooting some 15 years back. A lot needs to be done to strengthen our womenfolk. Through sports, we can make them self-confident and assertive,” Prakashi told IANS Saturday.

“Whenever I get a chance, I take the children to the shooting range in my village. This is how you can inculcate interest for sports among them,” Prakashi said.

Her sister-in-law Chandro, who still dreams to see most girls of her Jumri village near Baghpat participating in different sporting activities, agreed.

“They need to fight for their rights. The government is not doing much for their education. They do not get facilities to hone their sporting talents. All villages should have sporting facilities so that they have proper exposure to different games,” Chandro said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Gulshan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, felicitated the duo here Saturday on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Choudhury was among others, clapping vigorously when Sonia and Gulshan Kaur presented them bouquets.

They came to the dais on their own, and did not allow Seema, Prakashi’s daughter, to give them a helping hand.

“My mother and aunt are still getting stronger. For them, life still means doing a lot for society and family, though their age does not permit it. They still go for practice whenever they feel like and encourage youngsters to join the shooting club,” said Seema, a post-graduate in Sanskrit who is in the army. She herself is a well-known shooter.

“My mother and aunt Chandro Tomar used to take me to the shooting club in our village way back in 1995. Then I was a school going kid. It was during this period that they developed a liking for shooting. They finally participated in national competitions and won over 12 medals between 2000 and 2005,” she said.

Seema too felt that the condition of the Indian women needed to change.

“We still do not get adequate support from the family and society if we wish to do something like opting for sports as a career. In my case too, there were disagreements among the family whether I should adopt shooting as my career. It could be possible only when my mother and aunt intervened,” she said.

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