The United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child (October 11) aims to draw attention to girls’ rights and the many challenges they face globally.
At World Bicycle Relief, we recognize the value in breaking down barriers for girls. That’s why we distribute 70% of our bicycles to girls. Gender equality progresses holistically when families and village leaders commit to girls’ access to education.
An educated girl has a positive ripple effect on her family, community and society as a whole (USAID). On this Day of the Girl, see how The Power of Bicycles helps mobilize girls to change their futures for the better.
Defying the odds
In 2010, when we first talked to Priscah, she dreamed of becoming a soldier. As a grade six student at Chikanda Basic School in Central Zambia, she spent four hours a day walking to and from school. Priscah would wake at 5 a.m. and couldn’t always attend to morning chores. And even when she made it to school on time, Priscah’s exhaustion made learning difficult. “I used to be tired, doze off and lacked concentration in class,” she said. Priscah also suffered from anxiety about falling behind in her studies.
For girls in rural African communities, distance, along with chores, safety on routes to school, child marriage and pregnancy, present barriers to education that are difficult to overcome. And despite Zambia’s progress in implementing UNESCO’s Education for All, the dropout rate for girls only increases with age in Zambia.
But Priscah defied the odds. Thanks to a bicycle provided by the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP), Priscah graduated from primary school with better sleep and more energy. And she now dreams of becoming a doctor.
A reprieve for two students
In Western Kenya, Muhoroni Township is best identified as a sugar production area. Most families work in sugar factories, as cane cutters or weed pullers. And for many at Muhoroni’s Our Lady of Peace Secondary School, making ends meet is a daily struggle. Students work patiently, hoping education will transform their lives and those of their families.
Phoebe and Eunice are two young girls who want to overcome their circumstances and rewrite their destinies. So when the school received Buffalo Bicycles in October 2016, the girls saw a way to strongly impact their futures.
“With science, you learn about the cause and effect. My bicycle will cause punctuality. Work will be easier because the bicycle produces the energy of working,” Phoebe said.
But for Stella, a student at Our Lady of Peace and a young mother, a bicycle is more than a means of transport. It’s also a form of security. “My daughter can now confidently cycle past the sugar cane cutters who have the tendency of sexually harassing young girls and women.”
A bicycle is an important tool in the fight to protect girls from violence, early marriage and teen pregnancy. Girls who complete their secondary education are six times less likely to face child marriage.
The stories of Priscah, Phoebe, Eunice and Stella embody the struggles and sacrifices that girls in rural Africa must overcome to continue their education. But, given the right tools, they have succeeded in changing their lives and those of their families and communities.
By investing in girl students, you can help transform their challenges into pathways toward a brighter future.