Walking and Women Empowerment(Essay)

Credits: Canva

Biological Anthropologist Alice Roberts opined that if one needs to sum up the crucial difference between apes and humans in just two words, then they would be: Brains and bipedalism(Two-legged upright motion).

Walking upright on two legs that too habitually separated us from the other apes roaming around the jungles. This motion made us take a U-turn. As noted by Jeremy Desilva in his book “First Steps”, this new way of moving gave problems: making giving birth more painful, slow running speed, flexible but fragile spines, and a lot of ailments like hernias, sinus, and knee issues.

However, it proved us with noteworthy advantages that are too hard to miss. Freeing up of limbs led to the expansion of sensory and motor brain areas, standing up stimulated visual areas more often at the back of the brain, and restricted vaginal canal due to the changed structure of the Pelvis created new openings called Fontanelles (For compression) in the brain to let the baby pass through the birth canal which subsequently causes a massive increase in the size of the brain (Not so for chimpanzees and bonobos), energy efficiency, better thermoregulation, carrying capabilities and empathy.

Walking especially the long ones makes the heart pump faster and circulates more blood and oxygen to the brain, promotes new connections between the brain cells, stimulates neurons and alters the volume of the hippocampus in a good way and kicking spatial intelligence.

Creatives, thinkers and long-beard philosophers knew for a fact that walking makes us brainier and smarter. Hence the long walks. Henry David Thoreau says—“ The moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” And Friedrich Nietzsche goes to the extent of saying that “ Only thoughts reached by walking have some value”. Math nerds know how William Rowan Hamilton could come up with his equation (Complex Numbers) over a walk along the royal canal in Dublin.

If this is the case and walking is the superpower that made all the difference for humans then it raises a serious issue here. We have been denying this advantage to women under the name of patriarchy. By confining her to the four walls and making her prisoner in the home, this “fundamental right to braininess” is denied to them. Simon de Beauvoir in her seminal work “ The Second Sex” points out this indirectly with her words—

“ One is not born a genius, one becomes a genius, and the feminine situation has up to the present rendered this becoming practically impossible.” Continuing it, she adds further, “ Woman is shut up in a kitchen or a boudoir (bedroom) and the astonishment is expressed that her horizon is limited. Her wings are clipped, and it is deplorable that she cannot fly.”

This point to a direct correlation between walking/mobility to women empowerment. That means women breaking up the glass ceiling, and climbing up the ladders of social mobility too is dependent on their ability to walk and stroll across the park without gazing eyes.

Nari Shakti (Women’s Power), then, begins with putting on shoes to their feet and take the leap. That one small step could be a giant leap for womankind, paraphrasing Neil Armstrong.

—Go out and walk. That is the glory of life (Maira Kalman). And we should let women do that more often.

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