ABYSMAL FEATS & BREAKING GENDER STEREOTYPES.
Dr. Sarika Mehta, founder of ‘Biking Queen’ a mountaineer and a passionate social icon for empowering women, girl-child education, also a mother of youngest mountaineers; shares her incredible story.
Hailing from the diamond city of Surat, Gujarat and raised in a huge joint family of over 30 members, Sarika was acquainted with social pressure aplenty at home. Girl education was never a priority in that household. However, she had support from her father Pragnesh Jariwala and ambitious mother Maya; who ensured their three daughters to establish and build their own identity. Sarika credits her parents and her husband Jignesh Mehta’s motivation and push, that has particularly helped her dodge the societal norms and set different standards for women. After specializing in psychology she is a Ph.D. in Behavioral Science. Family support is crucial, especially being a mother of two children, she shares it would not be possible for her to follow her dreams, lest her in-laws would not have supported, her expeditions. Sarika quotes, ‘It was Jignesh(husband) who fueled my aspirations to establish ‘Biking Queen Charitable Trust’. He has always encouraged me and pushed my limits to continue my passion of being a mountaineer.’ She is blessed with two beautiful and understanding children Dhanshree and Janam, who also are ‘The Youngest Mountaineers in the World to climb Mt. Elbrus in Russia’ and many other mountain peaks. All of these unfathomable feats were made possible by Sarika with all things and people aligning in her life, with a bright smile on her face, she expresses deep gratitude to her sisters, Radhika and Nirja for they are her backbone and is also fortunate for having a pillar of strength friend Ashish Tulsian who is always by her side to fight any and all difficult situations.
Biking Queen Charitable Trust is an all-women organization, that aims to serve society by breaking the stereotypes. Sarika launched Biking Queens to shatter the societal mental roadblocks and prove to the
world that women can do anything they set their minds to. Sarika shares, ‘We made Motorbikes as a medium to spread awareness through the numerous motorbike rallies, including even the remote rural areas of India, to educate the girl child, along with health and hygiene, as some of the varied topics.’
Having led several motorbike rallies across multi-continents to spread the message straight, has been a big feat for Indian women. Some of the appreciated and celebrated rides are All India All Women Bike Ride, 10 Nation Bike Ride from India to Singapore, 3 Continents Bike Ride India to London, among many more. They spread social messages of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, ‘Women Empowerment’, ‘Sashkta Nari Sashkta Bharat’ through motorbike bike expeditions.
Back in 2015, it was difficult for Sarika to convince people and their families to ride with them as ‘Biking Queens’. Nevertheless, standing true to the testimony of time and with God’s grace, Biking Queens’ is now a proud family of more than 45 female members and counting. Engaging in women oriented and empowering activities, they are handling projects which include many girl children from different states of India and overseas. Their social enterprise is enabling, nurturing and educating these girls on matters of health and hygiene, education and more. Their endeavor is to make these girls feel at home, comfortable and identify with their struggle in the absence of proper means to survive, lack of nutrition and devoid of parental care. They brainstorm and with ideas contributed by all members of Biking Queens’s, they put those to action.
‘Biking Queens’ have transversed 10 nations in order to spread awareness about issues that they personally believed in. They have hoisted the Indian national flag, while taking a pause from their 10,000-kilometres-long ride at Khardung La Pass, Ladakh– the highest motorable road in India on August 15, 2017. Their efforts were recognized by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in Delhi. Recalling their time spent at Prime Minister’s residence, Sarika shares, ‘We were honored by Shri Modi Ji and elated when he discussed with us our various bike expeditions relating to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Swachh Bharat’. Ever since they have always received positive support from the government to host noble activities for women in India. They have even received overwhelming support from the United Nations Women Organization, WHO – World health organization It is fulfilling to receive appreciation from different Govt bodies of various Counties Even got very good support from various organizations from Surat. She Holds many National and International Records. Sarika narrates, ‘I was once challenged by someone’s statement that – ‘a mountaineer could never ride a bike or that women didn’t have it in them to be road junkies and brave the dusty miles’. Rather than getting bogged down, Sarika always believes in surmounting obstacles, she took the criticism positively and worked towards disproving it. She is currently prepping for another Mountain Summit climb for which she is getting trained in Surat, by a certified weight training coach Divyesh Patel, and by pilates expert Dr. Paayal Shah to keep them going a million miles and Mr. Faysal Bakili has been her mentor throughout her journey to success.