Ask anyone you know about their love of bikes and they all say something about freedom. “I feel free when I ride my bike”. “I love the freedom I feel when I ride.” “Cycling gives you wings.”
In a country where women and girls have not been allowed to ride bikes, and where it is still a deeply seated taboo, there is a two wheeled revolution taking place. What was a handful of girls just a couple years ago, is steadily growing and growing without the oversight of men. Girls teaching girls to ride. In Kabul, in Bamiyan, and in other pockets in the country women are empowering themselves with freedom of mobility.
Last summer, as we were working with the national team in Kabul and riding bikes with two young women in Bamiyan, a young Afghan woman was spearheading her own bike clubs as part of a Girl Up project. Fatima Haidari goes to high school in the US and spends her summers back in Kabul with her family. We found out about her project and fell in love with the photos she posted of her and the girls in Kabul riding bikes they had borrowed.
Last month, we donated ten bikes to the club so that the girls would have some bikes of their own to ride. Our longtime friend and fixer, Najibullah met Nahid, who had become the de facto leader of the club while Fatima is away at school, at the bike market to purchase bikes for the girls and arrange delivery. The film crew from Afghan Cycles was in country finishing production and was able to be there for the delivery and interview the girls who have formed their own biker gang Kabul-style.
“The bike has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. Its gives women a feeling of freedom and self reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” Susan B. Anthony
If you’d like to support this two wheeled revolution – you can donate here – what we do doesn’t happen without your help!
photo credit Jenny Nichols