Ways in which the bicycle can be a useful ice breaker and a vehicle for social justice. That’s what this incredible woman, Shannon Galpin, talks about in her TedX talk below. She shares how “around the world, the bike can mean the difference between a life fulfilled and a life of oppression.” The stories she imparts and the work that she dedicates her life to are very much in line with the reason I started this blog to highlight creative social possibilities for bicycles. Before my words get any more in the way of this powerful story about women’s empowerment in Afghanistan, please watch this TED talk, visit the Mounatin2Mountain website, and learn more about the Afghan Women’s National Cycling Team through the film Afghan Cycles.
Mountain2Mountain focuses on providing education and opportunity for women and girls in conflict areas. They believe in the power of voice as a catalyst for social action, and that women and girls are changemakers and catalysts for peace and global prosperity.
Afghan Cycles is a short documentary film that tells the story of the Afghan Women’s National Cycling Team. Introducing the first women to ride bikes in Afghanistan, it is an insight into what it means to be a female cyclist in this Middle Eastern country, as it exposes the gender and social barriers that these women are breaking, one pedal stroke at a time.
“The bicycle is a commonly used metaphor for change and freedom – wheels in motion, self powered movement, pedaling a revolution.”
Their work in Afghanistan brings back to mind Wadjda, a beautiful fictional film about the bicycle as a metaphor and tool for women’s empowerment in Saudi Arabia. Wadjda (2012) was the first feature film to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, and the director, Haifa Al Mansour, is recognized as the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia.
“The bicycle has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”
– Susan B. Anthony, speaking of the bicycle’s role in challenging gender roles for women in the US during the 1890s