(It’s International Women’s Month! So I’d like to take this opportunity to focus on an issue women share. Last year, it was about my Filipina sports heroines.)
Did you see this bit of news? The Gaza Marathon has been canceled after women were banned from participating by ruling political party Hamas. Read the following excerpts from the Huffington Post article:
Gaza sportswomen met the news with resignation, saying their conservative society had made it difficult to train even before the ban.
Gaza’s Cabinet secretary, Abdul-Salam Siam, said women running in public violated Palestinian customs.
“We don’t want women and men mixing in the same race,” Siam said. “We don’t want any woman running uncovered.”
Islam has no specific ban on women running, even under the conservative interpretations that most Palestinians follow. But some Gaza residents, including Hamas members, follow even sterner tribal norms that frown on women moving in ways that allow their body shape to be discerned.
The vast majority of Gaza women don Muslim headscarves that cover their hair. Many also wear long, loose robes to conceal their figure. A growing number also cover their faces. The minority of Gaza women involved in sports tend to exercise indoors.
I get it that they have cultural and religious norms that frown on people showing skin and men and women fraternizing. It’s just really sad that in certain parts of the world, women can’t take part in the wonderful sport and life event that is a marathon — or just to run, period.
I feel very blessed that as a woman in the Philippines, I have a choice to run. In our country, not much can or should stop a woman from running, if she wants to — not even cat calls, wolf whistles, and surprised “Uy, babae!” exclamations from bystanders. I just try to remind myself that these people, who aren’t runners, could probably never outrun an experienced woman runner in a 5K. ;)
Is running healthy for us? You bet it is, for women as well as men. It burns more calories than most other exercise activity, is great for the heart, strengthens the bones, busts stress, reduces risk for certain types of estrogen-related cancer, and improves longevity. (I’ve listed 8 Reasons Why Running is Badass on 8list.)
Is it safe for us? Although much has been made of women’s wider pelvis (creating a larger “Q-angle” from hip to knee) predisposing them to running injuries, there’s actually no evidence that a larger Q-angle results in higher injury rates. The risk of injury is lower the fitter you are.
So, ladies, let’s celebrate our freedom to run. Grab a girl friend and hit the road!
Mizuno elite athlete Yukiko Akaba