In most developed countries, women don’t think twice about riding their bicycle. But in some areas of the world, cultures have distorted women’s right to travel freely, especially targeting bicycling. Women who dare to bicycle in such places, are met at least with harassment and at worst, physical attack. And yet many are facing these dangers in a courageous fight to tear down these myths and open the way for all women to ride bicycles without threat.
In Defying Poverty with Bicycles, I discuss the importance of understanding local culture and barriers to bicycling before embarking on any bicycle program. In places where women are banned from bicycling, no bicycle program could effectively move forward.
If you live in such a place, I hope this latest example of Egyptian women’s courage against this injustice will help you remove your own culture’s stigma in order to set the stage for many effective bicycle projects and programs that will serve all members of your society.
Recent news articles from around the world highlighted a very successful event organized by women and girls in Egypt who call themselves There is No Difference. This excerpt from one article captures their passion:
“…Egyptian girls face the same adversity. Harassment in the streets, threats and abuse are hurled their way as they pedal past. However, a group of 5 individuals who called themselves: “There is No Difference”, are looking to change all of that.
Since the Egyptian government cut fuel subsidies, the cost of public transport has soared. This has resulted in more women cycling as a means of transportation. However, the barriers they face in the street are enough to scare off women from riding bikes, leaving them with little option for travelling.
There is No Difference hosted their first mass bike ride event as part of their new campaign. Supported by men, women and children, hundreds of cyclists rode through the streets of Port Said in Northern Egypt…”
Have you had experience fighting similar injustices against any sort of person bicycling? If so, please offer ideas in the comments section.