When Toronto men walked in heels

Toronto, Sep 27 (IANS) Hundreds of men garnered some unusual attention Thursday as they strapped on their fanciest stilettos and strutted along Toronto for the Walk A Mile in Her Shoes march.

The event, largely based on the idea that "You can't really understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes", is all about raising money and awareness to ending violence against women and girls and to promote gender equality, reports Xinhua.

Now in its fifth year in Toronto, roughly 400 people donned some three-inch heels to walk one mile in downtown Toronto -- collecting looks, laughs and blisters along the way.

And it's not just a stunt, said organisers from the White Ribbon Campaign, a now-global organisation aimed at ending violence against women. The non-profit organisation's executive director Todd Minerson said it's all about giving men a different perspective by experiencing first hand what it's like to be a woman.

"We've been struggling for ways to get men involved in this movement and raise awareness, ways that don't get men to feel defensive that they're being blamed for all men who use violence," he said.

"This is a way to really disarm them and also give them a brief glimpse into how the world is really different for women in lots of ways, including: subway grates and curbs and streetcar tracks, but also in their own experiences of violence."

Described as the international men's march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence, Walk A Mile in Her Shoes Toronto has raised about 400,000 Canadian dollars since 2009. The goal this year is to raise 125,000 Canadian dollars to fund violence prevention programs against women in Canada.

Sandun Weerasinghe, a young engineer, took on the challenge for the very first time. He said he's not used to getting this kind of attention, but was willing to make some sacrifices for a good cause.

Hardeep Bains, came as part of a company-organised fundraising effort. Bains, a second year walker, went all out in an effort to raise money. Creating an "incentive package" to collect more donations, Bains wore heels, got his legs waxed, nails done and even wore a dress.

With their combined efforts, Bains, his boss and coworker raised a total of 5,000 Canadian dollars for the event. He said a little pain means nothing if he can make a difference.

More than 2,500 Torontonians have walked over 5 million steps in high heels to help end gender-based violence, making the walk in Toronto one of the largest in the world.

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