Women’s empowerment can come in many forms hair cleaning for yourself to run a marathon with discipline. Regardless of the process, the ultimate goal is usually to build a woman’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
9 years, Malaysian Women’s Marathon (MWM) organizes marathons with the aim of providing women with a less competitive atmosphere for long-distance running, full marathons and to mark International Women’s Day with distinction.
But I was still confused about how marathons encourage women’s self-empowerment.
To this, the MWM team responded: “A marathon requires a great deal of discipline, dedication as well as passion. Completing a marathon often brings an irresistible sense of accomplishment, and heightened self-esteem instills confidence in ‘I can do it.’
“Women from all over the world are often challenged in their personal pursuit of excellence, at different levels, due to the lack of these positive values,” they explained the importance of what they do.
In the past, these marathons could be held physically, but with COVID-19 everything had to be taken to virtual space. This needed the support of the right parties.
Network access does not mean that it is easier
From 2020, MCIS Insurance Berhad (MCIS Life) is a sponsor of the MWM marathons. In March 2020, the first MCIS Life MWM race was to take place, with over 8,000 entrants registering.
However, the committee decided to stop the physical race a few days before the event following the rising trend of COVID-19 cases in the country. That was long before the announcement of MCO 1.0.
Participants were disappointed because they were looking forward to it, but MCIS Life MWM assured them that they would come in 2021, they would be presented with an option in line with the new normality.
Therefore, MCIS Life MWM 2021 was a completely virtual event that took place over 1.5 months and in which there were about 1,000 participants.
With a major shift in the way marathons were held, changes had to follow. The marathon is tailored to have a distance of between 50 and 250 km, compared to a distance of 5 to 42 km for physical one-day marathons in the past.
The team also welcomed cyclists to participate this year for the first time in the history of the annual event.
To track their progress and share results, participants were required to synchronize their Fear app (which monitors the distance of their activity, etc.) with the MWM registration portal as they use their GPS watches during training.
Alternatively, participants were also allowed to submit results from their smartphone’s health app that offers statistics on their activity ratio.
Data collected on a daily basis was then forwarded to the MWM dashboard showing the progress and completion of their training, whether it was running, walking, jogging or cycling.
There is no better time to support each other than now
MCIS Life is the main sponsor of the MCIS Life MWM race from 2020 to 2022 because he believed that this opportunity is the right medium through which women, men and children can become aware that even common issues like shared household responsibilities can empower women.
He donated hundreds of free race tickets at a big discount, but his financial contribution to the program is only part of the support.
Since she also wants to position herself as an advocate for women’s empowerment, her team is helping MWM ensure that the race has an extended reach.
This means bringing together a larger number of fitness-oriented people, who are mostly women (although men and children are not excluded) of different age groups.
A real race aside, the event is a one-month behind-the-scenes affair, which includes other activities such as:
- Honest conversations about today’s problems that affect women and our society,
- Knowledge exchange sessions that include issues related to sexual harassment and personal safety advice,
- Providing opportunities for women entrepreneurs to showcase their work (most MCIS Life MWM racing kits and merchandise are produced by themselves) and more.
Gossips of inspiration in the midst of a gloomy pandemic
Bringing events online had further advantages – more novices could access from the comfort of their own homes.
Those who are still WFH women have been involved in lifestyle changes to have time to exercise and achieve personal fitness goals.
The pandemic was also a powerful reminder that one’s own health and immune system play a major role in protecting against disease, creating an urgency for change for the better.
Although improving health is rewarding enough, a marathon usually rewards winners with medals and other prizes.
Accordingly, the winner of MCIS Life MWM 2021, Chong Mei Sze organized a sponsored trip to participate in the Shenzen 2021 International Marathon.
It is planned to take place in December this year, although the team will closely monitor the development of COVID-19 cases around the world, and Chong has been offered the opportunity to join the 2022 international event.
The team also saw inspirational cases from this marathon, such as a woman who was 34 weeks pregnant doing a 10-kilometer run, and a woman who is in rehabilitation for sports injury surgeries at a walking distance of 100 kilometers.
Overall, the MCIS Life MWM team considers their first virtual marathon a success and is already considering ideas for upcoming events. Depending on how the national vaccination program against COVID-19 in Malaysia is going, the team will adjust their plans.
- You can learn more about MCIS life hereand MWM here.
- You can read about other virtual marathons we have covered here.
Credits for featured paintings: Chong Mei Sze, winner of MCIS Life MWM 2021