Two years ago I posted on why spectacular talent deserves support. Sounds like a long time ago but for Mira Rai (also look here and here) to prove me right, two years really isn’t much time. Sure, she confirmed within a year that she’s one to reckon with in big races with very strong fields. But my argument was that she deserves support for more/other reasons than her running potential alone. For proving me right about her potential to make a difference for girls in Nepal, two years is actually very short. But she managed to acquire role model status surprisingly quickly, with lots of media exposure, and becoming brand promoter of ekantipur.com, official website of Kantipur Publications (the largest media house of Nepal). Obviously, that in itself doesn’t yet make a difference for girls, but it certainly is a necessary condition.
Ultimately one needs a critical mass of people’s power to start breaking the attitudinal and institutional supports of serious gender inequality. It’s good to remember how recent some (a crucial qualifier, lots still to change!) of those supports came down in much of the developed world.
When I first learned about this, I just couldn’t believe it! 1967? And it took another 5 years for the Boston marathon to allow women to run, but still on blatently discriminatory conditions. It took another media event, with girls willing to fight, yes orchestrated on purpose, to break down the institutional vestiges against women running marathons in the US (this is a great longread about that 1972 New York marathon). And it took until 1984 for the first Olympic marathon with females at the starting line. That’s running….I recently read that big-wave surfing finally allows girls to compete (again, couldn’t believe it…). And it took women to “fight their way in”. It took public pressure and institutional backing. And it took girls going for it and becoming the face of that pressure. Role models matter. That’s what I hoped Mira would become. That’s what she did.
Mira is now the second Nepalese woman in a row who has been nominated for National Geographic’s Adventurer of the year Award (the 2016 winner was Pasan Lhamu Sherpa Akita). Two power girls winning such an award would certainly create ripples in Nepal’s mediascape. Some great adventurers and causes are on that 10 adventurers nominee list. But Mira deserves your vote because she’s not only a great trailrunner who has shown amazing ability, but she’s a woman that has shown that she can make a difference to many others. A vote for her is more than a like on facebook. Winning the award would actively support her role model status. That is quite a remarkable opportunity, for her but also for you. Most of this listing-top-ten and award stuff is not much more than entertainment, but in this case your vote can be a real contribution to a real world cause.
To vote for Mira GO HERE (and vote everyday until it ends in December)!