Bicycles Empower Women and Boost Economic Development in Uganda
Women in Biwili, Uganda use bicycles as a form of transportation and economic development. Photo by Peter Reid

Women in Bwindi, Uganda use bicycles as a form of transportation and economic development. Photo by Peter Reid

Over 200 Ugandan women met in Buhoma,Uganda to learn how to ride and repair bicycles in an effort to promote bicycling and provide economic development opportunities. Ride 4 a Woman (R4W), a nonprofit organization focused on economically and socially empowering local women living near Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, and OneStreet, an international nonprofit organization working to promote bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly transit, spearheaded the project.

The three-week workshop, which took place in a village classroom in early January 2011, was an effort to educate disadvantaged women to acquire marketable skills to elevate themselves out of poverty, while promoting an environmentally friendly and affordable transportation option.

Part of the program’s master plan is to incorporate local women’s newfound bicycle skills into running touristic bike tours. R4W advertises local bike tours on its website, both self-guided and expert-led, that explore the Biwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and surrounding villages. The fee from the bike rentals and donations go into sponsoring a Women’s Community Centre, serving as a safe haven for women involved in the program. The centre will house training courses and a bicycle repair shop, further helping local women improve their skills.

Denis Rubalema, the executive director of R4W, sees the women’s centre and the training program as a life-changing experience for Ugandan women. “The project will have a profound impact on the livelihoods of the women and their families,” Rubalema said.

However, Inter Press Service News Agency reports, providing bicycle training does not mark the end of the program. “Next is job training, which will give the women professional skills to earn a much better income and hopefully break out of the cycle of dawn-to-dark work,” explained Sue Knaup, OneStreet’s Executive Director.

If you’re interested in donating to this cause, please visit Ride 4 a Woman to make a contribution.

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