Cycling for freedom in Bangladesh: "I just love the speed!"
In Bangladesh, girls usually depend on being accompanied by their brothers, fathers or male relatives wherever they need to go. By providing them with bicycles, the Diakonia partner organization Manab Kallyan Parishar (MKP) showed girls living in Thakurgaon in the northern district of the country that cycling provides a liberating experience of mobility and freedom.
Enhances confidence and saves time and money
“I just love the speed! I go to college along with other girls riding my bicycle. It enhanced my confidence. It also saves time and money. I have learnt cycling from my brother, and taught the same to my younger sister, Asma. She is at 6th grade and wish to own a bicycle too,” says 11th grader Hosne-ara.
Started as a local event in 2012
On the International Women’s Day of 8 March 2012, MKP initiated a bicycle riding procession in Thakurgaon, a northern district of Bangladesh. On that day there were 150 girls and teenage students, who along with Diakonia’s partner organization MKP rode through the roads of Thakurgaon. A total of 40 kilometres!
Next year the number of girls increased to almost 500 participants. They said that it gave them a sense of freedom and self-confidence.
Nowadays girls riding bicycles in Thakurgaon is becoming a common sight, and is a mark of progress in its own right. Bicycle for girls is not only a symbol of a vibrating life – it carries a strong political message:
"We girls are also capable of participating in the road to progress and development by our own right," states MKP.
Mitu, Rita, Lima, Jesmin, Jhumu, Nuri, Shila, Sadia, Rikta, Sumaia, Mokta, Shinin, Dulai and many other girls, who like Hosne-ara are finding out that not only does cycling physically remove them from the harassment of street corner catcalls but that its speed can safely deliver them to their destinations on time.