Cycloville launches Women's Bike Program
Through the Women’s Bicycle Program, Cycloville intends to increase the number of female cyclists, empower women as leaders within the cycling movement, and increase women’s access to bikes. One of the WBP’s primary activities will be a learn to ride class for young women (ages 15-30) in Mathare, the second largest slum in Nairobi. Cycloville is hiring the four trainees from the Bicycle Enterprise Development Program to teach the classes.
Another component of WBP is micro-grants for biking events organized by and for women. Cycloville believes that organizing biking events will build a network and sense of solidarity among women cyclists, and at the same time will build their confidence and strengthen their leadership and management skills. Traditionally Kenyans believe that cycling is not a “ladylike” activity so to stand against traditional beliefs women need confidence, strength and support.
Kithinji, the newly hired program coordinator, is a symbol of confidence and strength. She stood up for her own rights by following her passion of biking. As Kithinji says “Society here in Kenya says “cycling is a male sport” but I have a different opinion; cycling is a sport and all sports are for both men and women.” Kithinji learned cycling at a very young age but without access to a cycling team, she chose to play soccer while attending school. After high school Kithinji’s father did not allow her to continue playing soccer because traditionally it is not appropriate for women. After a period of frustration and hopelessness, Kithinji found peace and liberation in riding a bike and since 2015 has “enjoy[ed the] thrills of cycling.”
Kithinji believes that “cycling develops a character of resilience, perseverance and determination which produces both mental and physical strength” and that is why she excited to introduce bikes to more women in Nairobi. In her current neighborhood she has only met one female cyclist this year. She dreams that “in next 10 years it will become common for me to meet female cyclists on their bikes on the road.” Kithinji also hopes that in the future she will hear of female cycling events organized by women, sponsored by women in and outside of Nairobi whether for fun, fitness or for mobilizing around social issues.
Bikes Not Bombs praises Cycloville’s commitment to closely working with community leaders, providing equal access to bikes for all, and promoting equality and social justice in Nairobi.