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Cycling And The Girl child

While it is well-known that exercise is good for the body and Doctors recommend at least 150 hours of exercise of any kind per week, it has been shown that for cycling in particular, there are about 50% fewer women that cycle than men.

This research has been done in more developed countries in which there have been an increased number of women cyclists, and many women’s cycling groups opening up. In less developed countries like Uganda, this percentage is even higher.

Some Of The Reasons Why Cycling Is Less Popular In Women Than In Men

  • Sexual harassment

    Some ladies have reported that unfortunately, they face a lot of verbal harassment by mostly men when they are cycling. It is sadly a fairly common occurrence here to find some men cat-calling out to women cyclists which makes some women opt not to cycle at the end of the day.

  • Fears about appearance

    While slightly linked to the previous point, this also has something to do with the beliefs of how a woman should or should not dress and what society find appropriate or inappropriate. For women who would otherwise have loved to cycle to work, there are currently very few workplaces that will offer shower or changing facilities so many women will opt for commuter methods that will still leave their hair, clothing and makeup looking prim and proper.

  • Safety concerns

    It is well-known that men are better risk-takers than women and that women are generally more safety conscious than men. Therefore, many women will opt not to cycle because at the moment, there are only countable car-free lanes in the city centre, and there is no proper adherence to speed limits. For our city centres, the speed limit is currently at 50Km/Hr and yet for it to be considered safe for cyclists, it is best lowered to 30Km/Hr.

Inspite Of These Reasons, Benefits To Cycling For The Girl Child Include

  • Cycling improves the general health and well-being of women.

    According to an article in Everyday Health: “By nature, women face a triple threat of risk factors when it comes to arthritis: biology, genetic predisposition, and hormones. The article goes on to say: Overall, women have osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, at much higher rates than men. Cycling is a good way to keep physically active, which in turn improves the health of one’s heart that are increased by physical inactivity. This will then reduce risks of diseases related to obesity and others like strokes, cardio- vascular disease and heart attack, strokes, hypertension and other related diseases. Cycling also reduces the risk of diseases like osteoarthritis by helping women reduce their weight. In addition to it being effective, it is a non-load bearing activity meaning many women can do it regardless of their age, infirmity or prevailing other conditions. It is also gentle on the joints and is therefore advantageous for women who may have issues like muscle strains, knee troubles, back pain or impact-related injuries caused by other physical activities like running, jogging or walking.

  • Cycling alleviates the symptoms of other Girl- child related issues.

    Women generally have to cope with physical and psychological symptoms that are caused by menstrual periods and hormonal changes through pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. It has been shown that regular non-load bearing exercise such as cycling can help alleviate these symptoms.

  • Cycling improves women’s mental health and well-being.

    According to the Mental Health Foundation, women are more likely to have common mental health issues and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders. These could be for many different reasons that may be societal, physiological or physical. While riding in itself may not cure thee issues, it is well known to be life-enhancing and therefore enables us to deal with daily stresses. It is also a good way for the girl –child to get some me-time away from the daily domestic chores that are usually their responsibility which in turn gives them the space to recollect and reduce stress, anxiety and depression by carrying out an easily accessible physical activity that can help them reinforce a sense of self-worth and pride.

  • In places where biking has developed much more,

    cycling has been shown to improve social lives of ladies. In these places, there have been many biking communities specifically for women and these have been seen to offer a supportive group of people and have given many women a sense of belonging. Research shows that more women will engage in cycling and other physical activities because their social side valued the chance to engage in social contact.

  • In an economy like ours where a large percentage of the girl-child living in rural areas is not able to access education facilities because of the distance to school,

    it has been found that a lot of the girl-child has been forced to drop out of school and many have ended up in young marriages and teenage pregnancies. In countries with slightly similar rural economies like ours, providing bicycles to these girls has generally increased the percentage of girls able to make it to school in the midst of their home duties as well. NGOs such as World Bicycle Relief have enabled girls in countries like India and Pakistan to have better access to school by supporting them with bicycles and this has partly helped to reduce the school drop-out rates of girls in these countries.

With all these benefits of cycling for the girl-child, how then can we encourage women to engage more in cycling as a physical activity? Some of the ways we can encourage it is by

  • Tackling sexist attitudes among male road users so that less women are discouraged ad embarrassed while they ride, and more of them can get onto the road and bike.
  • Offering women a safe and comfortable environment that can encourage them to cycle more. For example, creating biking lanes and reducing the speed limits especially in urban areas.
  • Encouraging girls, especially those in rural areas by encouraging Non-Profit schemes that can sensitize girls and women and assist and support those who need some relief in terms of bicycles so that they can be able to make use of them.

Generally, it is said that overall, women are 36% more likely to be classified physically inactive than men, and this is largely because of societal ideals and practices that will usually leave women unable to take time off to take care of their bodies in terms of exercising.

These numbers can slowly be changed if sensitization, support and encouragement is given more to the girl child. Cycling, as discussed above is a great and easy activity for the girl-child to be involved in and if supported, can be encouraged for the girl child for various reasons. According to Lan Yin Tsai, a 90-year-old female cyclist, “The body stops moving because you decide to stop moving.

Everybody's system works better when they ride.” So let’s #KyangaGaali and encourage cycling for the girl child.


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