“People say a whole lot of things. If we listened to them, we would never leave our houses.” – Afghan women cyclist.
One of my fondest memories is recalling my little sister riding around on her bicycle. There was nothing more rewarding for her than to race her big brother and do everything to outmanoeuvre me. More often than not, she succeeded, and she still does to this day. Riding a bicycle has been pivotal in giving people a sense of instantaneous freedom; no matter what kind of bike, nationality, social standing, or gender. You’re accessing freedom!
Following on from the success of the hugely popular skateboard project, ‘Skatistan‘, another ‘wheelie’ good mission is taking form through the feature documentary ‘Afghan Cycles’. Produced by filmmaker, Sarah Menzies, it follows a growing group of women in Afghanistan risking their lives for the liberation and joy of riding their bicycles together. From rural cycling clubs to a National Cycling Team, these women are ushering in a new era for their people and women’s rights.
“This is not normal; girls riding bikes on the streets. And they’re taking that risk. So they’re brave to this. I see them as leaders.” – male contributor
Afghan women are breaking deep-seated gender taboos by learning how to ride their bikes, asserting that they deserve the same rights as their male counterparts and normalising the visibility of women in Afghan society.
“Giving bikes to young women gives them independent mobility, which is what makes it so controversial,” says Shannon Galpin, National Geographic Adventurer and founder of Mountain2Mountain, which supports the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team.
“You’re giving them freedom. That’s why a bicycle is so powerful, not just in this region, but around the world.”
Afghan Cycles needs your help to succeed and it only has until Wednesday 30 September to raise funds for filming to go ahead. You can support in making this feature documentary happen through Kickstarter today!
“We have an expression which says, ‘If you sit and I sit, others will sit. If you stand and I stand, others will stand too.'” – Afghan women cyclist
It comes down to this. And no one could have said it better than a woman who stood up for social reform and freedom: “Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. It think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling for freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.” – Susan B. Anthony.
We’re developing our Youth and Women’s team right here in London. Get in touch if you would like to know more: [email protected]