Empowering Girls

In India,  welfare programs give bicycles to poor school girls. The bicycle makes it possible for the girls to continue their education, something that they couldn’t do without some sort of transportation

Originally begun by private charities 10 years ago, giving away bicycles has recently been taken up by the government as a way to reduce early marriages, reduce feticide and promote literacy by encouraging more education.

From the above linked 2002 article:

“When I first visited the villages about a decade ago, I saw girls who had been married off at very early ages and were now tending to fields and struggling to take care of their homes and children. After setting up Ashta No Kai (which means ‘for a better tomorrow’) Armene helped set up self-help groups so that women would be able to save money and use it to become entrepreneurs.

“I then started kishori mandals for teenage girls to drive home the need for education as a tool of empowerment,” she informs.

When an appeal in local newspapers for cycles brought forth a reasonable response, coupled with the donation of a 100 cycles from her Japanese friends, Armene started a Bicycle Bank to reach out to those young girls who had decided to opt out of schools because they had no means to attend institutes which were in far-flung areas.

This has helped many girls to clear their SSC examination even though schools in Shirur do not have classes beyond standard VII.

“Most girls were forced to leave their education mid-way because they had to walk up to 10 kilometres for the higher classes. Parents were, but naturally, concerned for their safety and therefore would rather get them married at early ages than run the risk of securing education and special skills,” Armene explains.

7 replies
  1. ChipSeal
    ChipSeal says:

    Bicycles expand the horizons of pedestrians!

    From the title I thought this would be about my favorite scheme to promote bicycling- getting more women to become cyclists! If more women became cyclists, it would have the follow-on effect of attracting more men to the sport as well!

  2. P.M. Summer
    P.M. Summer says:

    Interesting. Wonder what would happen here if we gave away millions of bicycles to the poor and disenfranchised instead on spending billions of dollars on facilities for the wealthy and entitled?

  3. Eric
    Eric says:

    And I wonder what would happen if girls, here, finally felt the joy of freedom, rather than being constantly escorted by their family members in the SUV.

    Some people think it is awful that girls cannot leave the house in some countries without being escorted by a male member of the family. Do we trust our girl’s safety to pedal 10 km?

  4. Keri
    Keri says:

    I think today’s parents are hyper-protective of both genders. I have to wonder if the devolution of TV news is a factor in that.

  5. Eric
    Eric says:

    I know of a young woman who was hyper-protected. She is in college now, well, she was.

    Her mother visited her every weekend for the last year-and-a-half and fussed over every detail of her life. Now she has had a breakdown and had to leave school.

    None of the doctors know what is wrong with her.

  6. Andrewp
    Andrewp says:

    In one of our earlier articles about how the bourough of Hackney (in London) is increasing bicycle usage, one of the ways they are doing this is by giving bikes to “mums” and teaching them how to ride along with their children. The thought was that moms that didn’t know how to ride would not be as encouraging and could not be helpful with their kids who were also learning how to ride. Also it now gave these moms ways to get around the neighborhood to run errands, etc.

    Now that was creative thinking!!

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