This Thursday is World Bicycle Day; a UN endorsed ‘celebration of the bicycle’. As cyclists and fans of the sport it is easy to appreciate the joy and pleasure it gives us. That feeling of freedom and empowerment that cycling induces; a mental and physical release that only the power of a bicycle can unlock.
Yet whilst the humble bicycle has long been a symbol of autonomy and independence, it is also the unsung hero of economic development and gender equality too. Throughout history, the simple bicycle has propelled ‘human advancement’. From enabling the realisation of economic opportunities to the suffragette movement and liberating women, the bicycle has facilitated progress. And, today, in many areas of the world, a bicycle is still life changing; a means of empowerment that allows people to ride away from the cycle of poverty.
That is why World Bicycle Relief (WBR) – a global non-profit and social enterprise that mobilises people in developing countries through the Power of Bicycles – works hard to help those in need. Through their transformative programmes and life-changing Buffalo Bicycles they help people all over the world thrive by conquering the challenge of distance and achieving independence.
Over the past year, many of the most vulnerable communities across the world have relied on Buffalo Bicycles to help survive the pandemic. From serving as bike ambulances, to delivering medicines and care, the bicycle played a vital role in supporting those in need.
However, the long term effects of Covid-19 mean that there is a real risk that women and girls will get left behind. Alongside the devastating health and economic impacts, existing gender disparities in developing regions have sadly increased. The number of child brides has risen, girls will be less likely to return to school and some 47 million women are living in poverty. So as communities begin to reopen and rebuild, the Buffalo Bicycle will play an integral role in helping communities come back stronger.
That is why this year, WBR is launching their Pedal to Empower campaign on the 5th June to get Women on Wheels and to ensure that as the world recovers women and girls are not left behind. Pedal to Empower is a ‘DIY adventure’ that hopes to raise vital funds to enable WBR to provide more life-changing bicycles to communities in need.
Through the Power of Bicycles, they can break down the barrier of distance; realise economic opportunities, return to school, access health care – experience that sense of liberation. The hope is that women and girls across the globe not only rebound from the pandemic but can begin to thrive.
The power of bicycles lies in the independence they offer. We all love that feeling of freedom cycling gives but for many people the empowerment of their bicycle transcends the realm of leisure and provides liberation from poverty.
So, this weekend, celebrate World Bicycle Day: grab your bike and unite with riders from around the world and help empower women and girls to ride towards a brighter future.