Pedal to Progress: Empowering Girls' Education in Bangladesh
Updated: Oct 6
In a world where access to quality education remains a fundamental right, the Pedal to Progress initiative shines as a beacon of hope and empowerment. On August 29th, Osman Consulting in collaboration with our partners distributed bicycles to schoolgirls in Dinajpur, Bangladesh. This momentous occasion not only marked a step towards sustainable mobility but also championed the cause of girls' education by ensuring their access to school. This initiative embodies the belief that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, providing better choices, empowering females, and healthier lives for these young girls.
Why is the project needed?
The need for this project is evident in the dire circumstances facing girls in Bangladesh. According to UN figures, approximately 1.5 million girls annually either drop out after primary school or have never enrolled in secondary education. Girls residing in rural areas face additional challenges in accessing educational institutions, particularly secondary and higher secondary schools, due to the lack of transportation facilities. While boys typically commute to school by bicycle, girls rely on rickshaw vans or walking, both of which pose limitations. Travelling by rickshaw van is expensive, requiring a daily expenditure of Taka 70-80, which many poor parents cannot afford. Moreover, rickshaw vans may not always be available, forcing girls to walk long distances of 4 to 5 km or more, often encountering sexual harassment from boys along the way.
The difficulties associated with travel discourage many parents from enrolling their daughters in distant schools. Financially strained parents may even borrow money to send their sons to schools and colleges, neglecting their daughters' education. Additionally, societal expectations often relegate girls to household tasks, preventing them from attending school regularly. Consequently, girls become irregular, late, and eventually drop out, with many getting married at an early age.
Empowering Girls through Education
To address this issue, providing bicycles to rural girls facing long commutes to and from school can significantly reduce the dropout rate. In some rural areas, affluent parents have already provided bicycles to their daughters, enabling them to commute to school regularly. Inspired by these examples, many girls now aspire to go to school by bicycle. However, impoverished families cannot afford to purchase bicycles for their daughters. If bicycles were provided free of cost to these economically disadvantaged families, they would be more inclined to support their daughters' education.
The Pedal to Progress project aims to foster a sense of security and encourage parental approval for higher education. This initiative will alleviate the transportation burden, enhance school attendance, and grant girls the freedom to pursue education without hardship.
By providing multiple girls in the same school with bicycles it can further enhance safety and security, as girls can travel in groups. This collective approach creates a supportive and protective environment during their commute, effectively minimizing the risk of harassment. By promoting group travel, our project aims to foster a sense of solidarity among the girls and empower them to confidently attend school on a regular basis.
Moreover, it is crucial that the bicycles are specifically tailored to be women-friendly. To enable girls to effectively use bicycles, it is imperative to provide high-quality bicycles that address the specific needs and comfort of women. In Bangladesh, bicycle companies design their products while considering women's clothing and the physical differences between men and women. Osman Consulting provided bicycles which are designed to be women-friendly, featuring a front bar that extends from the handlebar to just below the seat. This design allows for greater freedom of leg movement across the frame. Additionally, it is essential to ensure bike security for school girls, both at home and at school, to protect the bicycles and minimize the risk of theft or damage.
Join the Movement
In conclusion, the Pedal to Progress initiative is not just about distributing bicycles; it's about giving girls the keys to unlock their potential and break free from the constraints of poverty. Join us in championing the cause of girls' education, in Dinajpur and beyond. Together, we can empower dreams, open doors to opportunities, and create a more equitable world. Let's pedal forward, hand in hand, on the path to progress.