Women's Bike Programme
You may remember last summer when we launched an exciting new partnership with Cycloville, a network of bike shops in Nairobi, Kenya. Cycloville has spent the last year and a half training youth mechanics and supporting them to enter the local bike industry. Now, we’re thrilled to share their newest endeavor with you: The Women’s Bike Programme.
With your time, donations and support, we've accomplished a lot this year.
Some may wonder why a network of bike shops like Cycloville would take time and resources away from selling and fixing bikes to focus on efforts to get more women riding. But for Bikes Not Bombs and our international partners, it’s a no-brainer.
We think the bike is a powerful tool for social change - bikes are a pathway to a more sustainable future, bikes create jobs, and bikes provide affordable transportation to so many people worldwide. So when we create programs and partnerships, we make sure the bike is being used for all that it is capable of. In the case of Cycloville, that includes breaking down the gender stereotypes associated with biking. I hope you will make a donation this December and join us to fully harness the power of bicycles.
The Women’s Bike Programme started last winter when International Programs Director Charlotte visited Cycloville with a simple goal: create a space to let women talk openly about what holds them back from biking. She held a Women’s Bike Workshop, attended by 25 women, to brainstorm barriers and solutions. One of those women was Kiki Kithinji, a young college student, who has been riding since she was 7 but through the workshop discussions gained “a whole new perspective...on why more women don’t ride bikes.”
This summer, after much planning and with the support of BNB, Kiki was hired as Cycloville’s first Women’s Bike Programme Coordinator. Her first task was to implement a Learn to Ride class for lower and working class women ages 15-30. Initially, Kiki says, the “program was almost failing before it began.” Despite a high sign up rate, attendance dropped at each practice session. Undeterred, Kiki spoke to staff at Cycloville and BNB and decided to reformat the class as a drop-in time. Now each afternoon, 25 attendees regularly practice their cycling skills.
Even while managing 4 trainers and 139 registered students in Learn to Ride and evaluating applications for micro-grants for women’s cycling events, Kiki has not lost her infectious enthusiasm for the programs. When asked about her vision for the Women’s Bike Programme Kiki laughs, “I have a dream [to] increase the number of female racers and number of women commuting [in Kenya]. Currently I’ve only seen one other girl riding in Nairobi!”
Here in Boston we understand Kiki’s dream. BNB launched Girls In Action (GIA) in 2010 in an effort to counteract powerful gender biases that tend to limit girls’ participation in our programming. A girls-only version of our Earn-A-Bike program, GIA weaves focused gender and age relevant discussions with partnerships with local organizations and our proven mechanics lessons into a 4 week program.
In conjunction with our efforts in expanding and developing Girls In Action, we’re pleased to have gender parity amongst our current youth employees who act as mentors and role models to all of our youth participants.
Over the next year, with your renewed help, we will continue to work with Cycloville and the Women’s Bike Programme and to build a bridge between our local and international programs to share ideas to best meet the needs of women and girls in Nairobi and Boston.
Please join with us this winter to support Kiki and the Women’s Bike Programme in Nairobi, and our own girls’ programs in Boston. Your donation contributes to the empowerment of women and men worldwide - on and off the bike.
P.S. Invest in the growth of Cycloville, the Women's Bike Programme and youth in Boston. Donate now!