Happy International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia!!!

 

Officially today is the actual day of celebration (17th May), however there have been a wide range of events happening worldwide for the whole week.

Of particular interest to lovers of life on two-wheels is the Tirana Gay (P)ride March in Albania.

 

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Watermark Online

Tirana Gay (P)ride March

The Tirana Gay (P)ride March was first initiated in 2006 has been gaining significant participation and coverage over the last couple of years and is fast becoming one of the most colourful, cultural community-driven events in the Albanian calendar.

This story is great for a number of reasons. Aside from being an awesome international event addition for this weeks general celebrations, it is also great as Albania doesn’t usually make headlines (at least not enough for positive reasons). Also, most people do not usually associate progressive, fun, international bicycle-inspired community demonstrations for gay rights to come out of small Southeastern former Eastern Bloc European nation. But there you go!

So kudos to the Albanians for being such a wonderful and supportive international example.

(Queensland take note!!)

A dual protest for 2017

This year was an extra special event. To mark the international festival, participants in Tirana’s Gay (P)ride Parade rode bikes for one cause, whilst elsewhere in the city two hours earlier (yet overlapping), another protest was being held in response to the country’s political opposition.  The city was inundated with bikers strewn in multi-colored costumes with balloons, flags and pennants flapping the wind as they rode past a protest tent erected in front of Prime Minister Edi Rama’s office to raise awareness and support to pressure the current Albanian government to extend their 2009  anti-discriminatory laws to legalise same-sex marriage and also to recognise trans-gender citizens.

People taking to the streets to protest is not new, but the inclusion of highly decorated bicycles adds an extra element of personality, intimacy, community and creativity which is hard to beat and difficult to ignore.

Best of luck Tirana …our bicycles are with you!!

We hope you have a fun and successful ride to celebrate your 2017 IDAHOT!

Tirana Gay (P)ride MarchSource: Fox News

Below is a 7 minute video of the 2017 Tirana IDAHOT (P)ride March.

More details:

Official International website.

IDAHOT Facebook Page 

Twitter: @may17IDAHOT

Official hashtag #IDAHOT2017

I love it when readers suggest and recommend people and projects for this blog.  RG sent me an email suggesting I check out The Lightning Furies – which I did. I checked them out online and then contacted them. Anna replied and we ended up meeting for a coffee. Here is what transpired. Enjoy! Nina.


 

The Lightning Furies

The Lightning Furies is one of a number of projects created under the SNAPCAT umbrella by Perth duo – artists Renae Coles and Anna Dunnill. As Snapcat themselves describe, their work is “ambitious, cheeky and political and involves painting, sculpture, video and participatory performance.”

Snapcat has produced a number of interesting, topical and provocative works – and none more so than The Lightning Furies. This project came out of their researching into women and sport and then was further developed in response to other input (like community consultations) into the feminist bike gang The Lightning Furies.

In their own words, The Lightning Furies are “a bike gang of tough women and non-binary people, dedicated to a feminist mission of utopic bad-assery. Wearing denim vests, bikes adorned with pennants, the Furies ride en masse through urban streets, wind through laneways and hold up traffic. Aesthetically, the Lightning Furies fall somewhere in between an outlaw bikie gang, Girl Guides, and the Vuvelini (Mad Max: Fury Road). We have a Manifesto and an Oath. We have gang colours and patches. We are fierce and inventive and ready to smash the patriarchy with boots and glitter.”

Meeting The Lightning Furies

Following a reader recommendation, I contacted the The Lightning Furies and this weekend met up with one of the co-creators, Anna.

Over a coffee, it was very inspiring to hear the background, development, reasoning and evolution of how The Lightning Furies came to be – and what they do.

I was intrigued by this project for a variety of reasons. It has significant impacts as an arts project and for personal and community development, as well as creating a space for much needed further discussions about important concepts such as gender, access to public spaces, the Australian cycling culture/s, normative behaviours, social governance and civic participation.

Their website gives a broad overview of the monthly rides and few cool snapshots of what happens on the rides, but correspondingly, these rides as a rich platform to cast a light onto the underlying ideologies, practices and outcomes that this project is addressing.

During our conversation we spoke about many ideas. We covered bikie groups, girl gangs, females feeling safe to ride bikes on the road, public perception of women riders, feminism, being part of inclusive group, how to get more women riding bikes, The Lightning Furies being invited to perform at events, the role of patches and branding, sport and female participation, and how women do (or do not) ‘take up or use’ public space. It was a great conversation!

Sharing stories and riding bicycles for personal confidence

Particularly interesting for me to hear, were the other critical ’empowerment’ aspects that were built into the project – such as the ‘crafternoon’ sessions that happen before the rides. In these session, participants make their own customised patches, bike pennants and other decorations to adorn their outfits and bikes which encourage individualism, expression of self and celebrating vibrancy through colour and art.

Not only is it valuable to be physically creative and to have a space to express yourself, but also a safe place to share stories.

It was inspiring to hear how important the ‘making’ sessions are for participants to come together and have time to not just work on this projects – but also to connect as a group of women. Anna told a few stories that while making decorations, participants would open up and discuss their riding experience, their fears, new insights and later on, how much stronger and more confident they now felt after being on a Lightning Furies ride – and how they had been able to hold on the excitement and strength they had felt during the ride, and translate it into other areas of their lives to great effect. So great to hear.

I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with Anna and came away feeling inspired and excited about the innovative and creative ways that people come up with to get more people on bikes and The Lightning Furies is just one example of this.

 

The Lightning Furies

Source: The Lightning Furies Website

The Lightning Furies

Source: The Lightning Furies Website

 

Future Furies Action

I will be staying in touch with Anna and have invited the The Lightning Furies to guest blog post – I am very keen to see what the future holds for this group.

Whether The Lightning Furies is your style or not, they are a wonderful example of a local grassroots collaboration driven by genuine passion, creativity and a strong commitment to positive social change.

The Lightning Furies is just one example of how two women have come together to address an issue that important to them  – it presents the rest of us with a delicious challenge – what issue is important enough for us to get up off our butt and get some action and how would we go about doing it?

Happy International Women’s Day  – A quiet ride to celebrate.

I have just returned back from celebrating International Women’s Day 2017 (IWD). It is late now, just past midnight in fact, so technically it is the day after IWD. I’m late as I had spent the afternoon and evening going for a wonderful IWD ride. So before my IWD night officially ends, I thought I would put up a quick considerations to mark the occasion.

International Women’s Day Background

For those who don’t know, International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

International Women’s Day has a long history in the West dating back to 1909. In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly made the holiday globally recognized by inviting member states to declare March 8 a day for women’s rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Since then, the UN creates an annual theme for International Women’s Day. Today also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity and the theme for this year is Be Bold For Change.

This day is important for many reasons, but  with the World Economic Forum prediction that the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186, the struggles of many women in disadvantaged situations is more acute than ever.

Therefore, International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to raise positively contribute to

  • celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women because visibility and awareness help drive positive change for women
  • declare bold actions you’ll take as an individual or organization to help progress the gender agenda because purposeful action can accelerate gender parity across the world.

International Women's Day

Two Awesome Historical Stories of Heroic Cycling Women

I got a real kick out of reading Peter Zheutlin’s article about his amazing great great-aunt Annie Cohen Kopchovsky’s ride way back in 1895 and the legacy that this event has had since in helping women to break boundaries – inspirational!

Another historical piece by fellow bike Blogger Nicola from Women Who Cycle offered some insightful comments when considering the impact and connections between bicycles and specifically American women (based on a Wisconsin stimulus).

 

International Women's Day

Source: Bike Penticton

IWD 2017 – Who, what and how?

IWD is not all about women – it is equally important that our brothers and the gorgeous men in our lives are also recognised! In fact some of the most staunch feminists I know are men.

There are many places to find out what is on this IWD. Some people offer ideas such as hosting your own events, for others who might want time alone or to be with friends, there are numerous suggestions on ways you can celebrate and share the day.

International Women's Day

How are riders around the world celebrating International Women’s Day 2017?

For the cycling community, regardless of what gender you are  – IWD guarantees a plethora of events, celebrations, awards and all kinds of reasons to get together for a ride – for example:

  • There were celebrations and rides all over the world, although coverage of these reports varied in detail and depth for example Malaysia, India and  the UK.  There was also a massive march in New York City, which some friends of mine attended and said they saw a large cycling cohort represented – hooray!
  • More locally, the Bushrangers MTB Club celebrated more women registering in the club than ever before.
International Women's Day 2017

Source: Total Women’s Cycling

 

Quiet time to reflect and give thanks

Personally, I celebrated International Women’s Day 2017 in low-key style. This year I wanted to mark the day with simplicity, gratitude and in a way that acknowledged the ordinary and everyday.

Instead of going to a big event, I opted instead to take a solo ride along the coastline and have time to reflect. For me, this was a more honest and personal way to ruminate and commemorate on the processes of womens’ struggles.

As I rode, I thought about my life and the lives of others.

I thought about the current situation of fellow sisters throughout the world, the amazing progress the world has made and areas that still need improving. I thought about how I impact the world, and how I felt I was making a difference and where I though we needed more change.

I took time to stop and gave thanks.

I watched the bay and listened to the lapping of the waves. It was a stunning afternoon. The ocean breeze was cool and reassuring, the sunset spectacular and full of promise for the next day and I was very grateful to be alive and riding my bike.

What did you do to commemorate this day?

What ever it was – Happy International Women’s Day!

Theis story of Fancy Women On Bikes was sent through to me by a very dear friend MK, with whom I share a passion for positive action. MK sent this post after seeing it in the A Mighty Girl Facebook page and knew it that the floral, bicycle and social justice combination is right up my alley.  It is such a comprehensive post that I contacted A Mighty Girl and gained their permission to repost it here as a Guest Post in its entirety. Thanks to MK and A Mighty Girl for sharing such an important and colourful story with us all – NG.


 

Guest post by A Might Girl (3rd November 2016 ay 10.22). A Might Girl is a forum that provides a fantastic array of resources, stories and material to support families and communities to raise more intelligent, confident, and courageous girls.

 

Thousands of women — wearing flowers in their hair and riding elaborately decorated bicycles — took to the streets of cities across Turkey to proclaim women’s right to cycle free from harassment or bullying. The women, who call themselves “Fancy Women On Bikes” or Süslü Kadinlar Bisiklet Turu, were riding to raise awareness of the intimidation and harassment that many women are subjected to while cycling. Sema Gur, the founder of the movement, says learning to ride a bike at the age of 38 changed her life: “I can go to places that I wouldn’t walk or drive to,” she asserts. “I can stop, slow down, smell the things around me, talk to people, and be more mindful and healthy too… It’s a freedom like no other.” After Gur connected with other female cyclists who had grown frustrated by the status quo, the “Fancy Women on Bikes” movement was born to unite women in reclaiming their right to public spaces with the simple yet powerful message: “We should go wherever we want, dress however we like, be visible, yet not be disturbed.”

According to Banu Gokariksel, a feminist scholar of geography at the University of North Carolina, the changing political climate in Turkey has made the need for social movements like “Fancy Women on Bikes” even more important. “The rising social conservatism in Turkey in the recent years deteriorated women’s public status and freedom. With harassment and road bullying, women are denied their rights to the city,” explains Gokariksel. Gur, like many other female cyclists, frequently experiences catcalls, threats, and road rage, even in her liberal hometown of Izmir — and in more conservative areas, some women were being intimidated into stopping cycling altogether.

“Women’s visibility in urban spaces is key to reclaim that right to the city,” says Gokariksel. “Cycling is a particularly powerful way to do that – because it exposes a woman’s body in the traffic. It leaves them vulnerable in a way, but changes the way they interact with the city. Regardless of their backgrounds, transportation is a big issue for all women around the world. Women being able to peacefully ride bikes isn’t a trivial thing. This movement can trigger bigger changes, if it can overcome the differences such as class, religion, ideology and ethnicity.”

With “Fancy Women on Bikes” rides recently taking place in 26 provinces throughout the country, the group knows it’s making an impact both in encouraging individual women to feel more comfortable about riding on their own and in sending the message that women will not allow themselves to be intimidated off the roads. Gur knows that not all of the women who participated this time will become regular riders, but she believes that their movement will lead to lasting change. “You cannot bring patriarchy down overnight by simply cycling, of course,” she says. “But it’s a start and it’s what we can do. [When we were on the bikes] thousands of people saw us. Now perhaps they will be less surprised when they see a woman riding a bicycle and treat us better.”

To read more about Fancy Women On Bikes movement on The New York Times, visit http://nyti.ms/2e09ElZ – or check out their Facebook page at Süslü Kadınlar Bisiklet Turu

For a fascinating book about how bicycles became a tool of women’s liberation in the early women’s right movement in America, we highly recommend “Wheels of Change: How Women Rode The Bicycle To Freedom (With A Few Flat Tires Along The Way)” for ages 10 to 14 at http://www.amightygirl.com/wheels-of-change

For an excellent film about a young Saudi girl who dreams of greater freedom — in the form of having a bicycle of her own in a country where women are banned from freely riding bikes in public — we highly recommend “Wadjda”, for ages 9 and up at http://www.amightygirl.com/wadjda — or stream it online at http://amzn.to/2ef9h2p

Wadjda’s story has also been released as a book for ages 10 to 13, “The Green Bicycle,” at http://www.amightygirl.com/the-green-bicycle

For a fun picture book celebrating the joy and freedom that cycling brings, check out “Sally Jean the Bicycle Queen” for ages 4 to 8 at http://www.amightygirl.com/sally-jean-the-bicycle-queen

And, for our favorite t-shirt celebrating fierce Mighty Girls like the “Fancy Women”, check out the “Though She Be But Little She Is Fierce” t-shirt — available in a variety of styles and colors for all ages at http://www.amightygirl.com/fierce-t-shirt

Source: A Mighty Girl

Source: A Mighty Girl

Halloween

I do not celebrate Halloween for a number of reasons (least of all we are in Australia!) and that’s why there was no ‘Halloween’ post for 30-31st October.  However, I appreciate that it can be a big deal for other people and that it is most certainly an American tradition. So, I found an American Halloween event, called the Homewood Witches Ride, that was squarely bike and community inspired, and that had the kind of positive community slant on the standard Halloween celebrations to warrant a second look. So, although there was no post on Halloween, here is an authentic, fun, bicycle-inspired Halloween celebration event (as a postscript).

 

Homewood Witches Ride

There are similar versions of this event in various forms elsewhere (most notably on motorbikes), but this particular ride was established by Janie Ford Meyer in memory of her mum, Paula, who in 2013 died of lung cancer. Essentially, instead of brooms, the ‘witches’ decorate their bikes and dress up each year as a way of celebrating Halloween, to support a national charity and imbued the community with some colour, fun and mobile festivities.

Now in its fourth year, hundreds of Homewood local women (and women from the surrounding towns and wider afield) got together in the town of Homewood (Alabama) for this year’s annual Homewood Witches Ride held on 30th October.

 

The Main Ride

The main event runs from about 4-6pm with the official ride starting at 4.30 pm and lasting about an hour to do a full loop of town. It is well timed not to be a late night for families and small kids as many who come to support the event are also dressed up, and so much excitement can make for a long afternoon!

The two-mile ride encompasses the main parts of the town, and families and locals line the streets to cheer the witches on. There are two designated ‘candy zones’ where the witches throw out lollies to the crowd. This aspect has been strategically designed so that it is easier to clean up afterwards and is it also makes it safer for the riders, but more importantly, it means onlookers can choose which positions best suit what they want to get out of the event – so that families with young kids can go to designated candy areas, whilst others can spread themselves out elsewhere – great idea!

After the ride is complete, all are invited to join the witches and locals at a central hub where there are food vans and other social festivities, such as a silent auction. Prizes are awarded for the ‘best witch costume’ and ‘the best broom bike’.

At the cost of US$25 for entry, all proceeds go to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The ride is now very popular, with hundreds of witches taking a slow ride around town entertaining, joking, laughing, and a generally having a cracking good time.

 

Community colour and vibrancy

I can see how this event would be a lot of fun. There seems to be a rise in community-supported, artbike, dress-up, ride events that are widely popular (most recently, The ArtBike Grand Prix and the SSWC 2016 (although this one is not for a charity).

It is inspiring and reaffirming to be part of an active community that supports such greater events. Such occasions are so important in re/defining, co-creating and maintaining a positive community identity, demonstrating inclusiveness and helping to build a dynamic local cultural tradition. It is wonderful to see such enthusiasm, acceptance and exuberance being shared on two-wheels by so many. Keep up the good work all!

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Source: Unless identified as per Instagram all other pictures from The Homewood Star.

 

Here is a video from last year’s event:

 

Ten days ago I participated for my first time in the 3 hour MTB Chicks in the Sticks Event. This is an all-female registration event, although partners, family and friends were in attendance en mass on the day. It was held on Sunday 28th August, and it had the largest turn out to date of just over 240 female riders on the day. Although official it is a race, and a few keen elite women race it, the overall premise is to ride and have fun and provide an opportunity for women of all skills and levels to get involved.

 

Chicks in the Sticks 2016 Event set up

There was a variety of choices to be made regarding level of participation – solo rider or team of two – which I was (double Yorkers), then experience level – ranging from Chicken Run (elite), Free Range (Intermediate) and Have a Crack (starting out and having a go). It was also great to see a very well populated Juniors Little Chicks in the Stix, and event more so the Queens of the Roost category (over 50’s) with 21 riders. The final results are here.

It was held on the Scouts private property, Mt Cotton – which for me was a bonus as it meant that aside from a social ride two weeks before, most riders were not overly familiar with the tracks. With a 6.6km loop, it was not an particularly difficult track – but certainly the long step-downs and hill climb in loop were challenging enough for some. The location was well resourced, managed and organised on the day with easy access to facilities, shade, water, rubbish bins, parking, toilets in the village and once on bikes, the track was clearly marked and well marshalled. There was a few select male support crew dressed up riding to keep morale high for those who may have been struggling.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and many families had come out to make a day of it. Many participants had taken on board the ‘have a go and have fun’ message, so costumes, colour and accessorising featured prominently. I noticed that most participants hung around until well after Prezzies, and the village atmosphere for the whole day was upbeat, relaxed, non-competitive, friendly and very encouraging. After official awards had been given, there was (what seemed like) a never ending dispersal of gifts, goodies and freebies given to select race plate numbers and then ultimately the rest were thrown into the audience. It was an impressive stash of merchandise – kudos to the organisers!

 

How did it go?

I rode with a friend as a team – entitled Bicycles Create Change.com of course! We rode, not raced. We had a great time and were happy to cut our time short (to reign in any possible competitiveness and also so we could cheer each when the other was on course). I had a bell and a squeaky honker that I made good use of at the start line and on track, I sang (rather loudly) Queen’s I want to ride my bicycle as we were cruising along a flat section to great applause from my surrounding riders and after settling down after the second lap, managed to get the name of a few pinners I was either in front or behind for a while during sections. In fact, post-ride, both riders sought me out and passed on their details to invite me to join them for future riding adventures (which they did!), and I have also since see a few on track at various locations and had a good catch up.

I had a great time on the day. I was the only person on the day riding a Singlespeed. Aside from the terrain being perfect for it and that I love riding my Niner, I also used this event as a test run for a possible decoration idea before going down south for the World Singlespeed Champs in 4-weeks time in Victoria. I used my the olde faithful Leki flower power motif –because I have the materials, it is easy to apply (cable ties) and disassemble, I can easily change or modify the design, it transports well and has maximum visual impact.

 

A good time

Aside from being the only Singlespeeder there, I was also the only person in casual wear (i.e. not full theme costume or MTB kit, or a combination of thereof). I had floral capri pants (over my nicks) and a bicycle print singlet, no socks – lean and clean. I refused to wear any branded gear. I was also very social – telling jokes, engaging with my fellow riders and generally adding good energy to the positive vibes.

img_1941 img_1939 img_1938

An interesting post-script

During the event, I was quite conscious of a few sociological dynamics operating on the day, and since then, my academic brain has been working over time problematizing certain elements – which I have half a mind to develop into more detail for a Journal article perhaps?? Certain ethnographic quandaries were very evident to me such as:
• Racer (competitive) or rider (social)
• Level of fitness and skill – experienced riders alongside newbies
• All female event and female onlyness sports
• Insider (MTBer) and subculture (Singlespeeder)
• Local (QLD) vs. outsider (me originally from VIC)
• Stereotyping of gender in adventure sports (flowers as a representation of ‘femaleness’ – or not)
• Impact and interplay between skill/fitness level and the riders’ ability to ‘have fun’ or enjoy the event
• Track etiquette (see point one and two esp. regarding overtaking).

Some interesting ideas to ponder. I’ll let you know if anything eventuates.

by Sachie Togashiki

This post is about my art bike that I represented for the issue of gender inequality. Gender inequality has been discussed for centuries and there are still gaps between genders in salary, parliament, etc. This issue is no matter what the country, this issue is happening in both developed and developing countries.

 

I combined the structure of a bicycle with gender inequality. A basket filled with fruits represents wealth and the ‘fruits’ in terms of jobs, finances and political representation. The front wheel, (men), is closer to the ‘fruits’ than a rear wheel, (women).

 

According to the Australian Government, women get 82.1% of men’s pay on average,  so there is still a gap between genders. When it comes to political representation, women have 26.7% of all seats in the House of Representatives and 38.2% in the Senate in the Australian Parliament, according to the Brisbane Times.  Women account for about a half the population, but there are not enough representatives in government to accurately represent them. Also, women constitute only 17.3% of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of non-public sector employers in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. As you may realise, there is a real gender inequality.

 

There are some barriers and crossing gates that prevent women from getting the ‘fruits’ within society. In order to get good jobs and finances, women might have to go through ‘stereotypes’ which presents women as supposed to be spending time taking care of children or doing housework. Also, women are often characterised as being physically weaker, so many women have experienced domestic ‘violence’ in their lives, which affects not only physically in damage, but also severely impacts mental health, so the signals of violence leads to a worn-out heart (as represented as the bike saddle). Therefore, these barriers often prevent women from creating a better life.

 

The situation changes only when women visualise and realise the situation and corporate to solve these issues with men. Women should not accept gender inequality and need to assert their rights too gain equality in wealth. Also, men can often be the strongest supporters for achieving gender equality by suspending stereotypes of women, for example, by making lunch on weekends or by looking after their children instead of it always being their wives. It might take a long time to solve this problem, but only small actions can change this situation. I hope this post will cause a small change in a society.

 

Sachie with her Art Bike: Women Get Fruits in a Basket

Sachie with her Art Bike: Women Get Fruits in a Basket

 

 

Sachie Togashiki is our Guest Blogger, unveiling some of Japan’s bicycle culture for the fortnight from 11th April to 24th April.

 

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015). Gender Indicators, Australia (no. 4125.0). Canberra, Australia. Retrieved from

http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4125.0main+features610Aug%202015

Downer, G. (2015). How to get more women into Parliament. Brisbane Times. Retrieved from http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/comment/gender-equality-in-parliament-quotas-just-a-quickfix-solution-20150809-giuy5w.html

Workplace Gender Equality Agency. (2015). Gender pay gap statistics. Canberra, Australia. Retrieved from https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/Gender_Pay_Gap_Factsheet.pdf

When researching for this blog, I read about many inspiring and rewarding stories, projects and groups – but this one stopped me dead in my tracks.

I was incredibly moved this week to see that this month’s UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, USA saw the debut of the first ever black African female cyclist – Jeanne d’Arc Girubuntu from Team Rwanda.

Jeanne d’Arc has come onto the scene at a very opportune time and given that I am currently researching the devastating fact that being a female restricts all aspects of life in many countries – and that bicycles can often provide some means to ameliorate some of these issues – her participation at world class competitive cycling events is a game changer in also providing hope and opportunities for would-be cyclists from poor or war-torn countries.

That Jeanne d’Arc was the only black African woman on the podium this February, in Morocco at the African Continental Championships where she came second in the individual time trials speak volumes about a change very much needed in cycling – and that she has caused quite a welcomed stir in the media.

It is still quite a novelty to see Japanese riders in the Tour de France, so the impact and precedence that Jeanne d’Arc’s success could make cannot be underestimated.  Female cyclists worldwide have struggled to gain the attention, sponsorship, support and coverage that their male cycling counterparts have – compounded by dire socio-economic conditions and a lack of role models or any cultural history in the sport – what an amazing feat of self-belief to overcome such significant barriers!

Her success and presence opens up the cycling industry by providing a positive female role model for not just African women, but for all athletes who is under or not represented at world sporting events.

From the ashes

Hutu and Tutsi fighting first broke out in October 1990 and the conflict escalated to full-blown war crimes across Rwanda and drew in neighboring countries, like Tanzania, Zaire, Uganda and Burundi. Despite a UN intervention in 1993 being operationalized in Rwanda, a breakdown in peace talks in April 1994 (where the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed) set off a tidal wave of attacks, crimes and ethnic killings. 1994 -1997 saw some of the Rwanda’s worst and most unspeakable violence, war rape and genocide to occur during African’s First War. This crippled the country, and in 1994, half of Rwanda’s 7.5 million people were forced to leave their homes and yet the protracted and ferocious fighting continued. Finally in 1999, the official fighting was brought under control, yet this left 40% of Rwanda either dead or fled – and those left behind severely traumatised. The country has been struggling to repair ever since.

Jeanne d’Arc Girubuntu was born in 1995, so she only 21, which means she was born and grew up in this situation – which in itself is a remarkable thought. The fact that she is also a very gifted cyclist AND has found a way to train to an elite level AND found support so that she has reached the position she is in now is nothing less than astonishing.

On so many levels, her story is one of inspiration, courage, dedication and commitment – and also one of hope and change.

I am in awe of Jeanne d’Arc, her supporters and team – and have no doubt that her influence and presence will ignite inspiration and admiration both on and off the bike.

I am excited to see what developments and changes will happen – best of luck Jeanne d’Arc!!

Image: Dean-Warren Source: Cycling Tips.com

Image: Dean-Warren Source: Cycling Tips.com

It has been a very busy start to the semester, finishing the Summer program, new teaching roles and semester 1 going back to Uni…. my timetable has only just started to settle down into a more manageable schedule. In between teaching my classes and keeping up with general class administration and preparation, I have been ticking over some ideas to get started on my own Lit Review. OS I have been reading widely and trying to see what the common themes, main ideas and major trends are within my field. My past Lit Review Intersection earlier this month had the basic idea of a Venn diagram identifying the three main areas of Gender, Education and Developing Countries as the Holy Trinity needed to set me out on my general info gathering to start with. So for the last 2-3 weeks, although very busy, I have really enjoyed reading widely and seeing what is out there.

 

Updated Intersection and some other details

As with any good researching, my parameters have changed as I make room to accomodate some new ideas and details I did not have a couple of weeks ago. So far (and this is bound to change again) the Venn diagram has a new additional element of ‘location/geography’ included (to locate the other factors more specifically) which I feel gives it a better compliment for the other factors. I find that trying to visually represent my data helps to clarify what exactly are my main ideas and the like – so I had a go at creating my own infographic to bring it all together (see below). The process of putting this infographic together meant I had to refine and collate sources into basic summaries of main ideas – which was very helpful in an of itself – and already I have had some new insights that I want to change as a result – which is the whole purpose of producing it! Hooray Progress!

 

Too many details!!

In reading these last few weeks, I have been trying to get an overall sense of the main push and pull factors in my research area – and I can feel the attraction of falling down the rabbit hole in a few of these articles – super interesting reads, but I am really trying to be mindful to stay on track and not get sucked into really interesting , but slightly off-topic content (my, it happens sooooo easily!!). So, I have clear purpose and am looking at ways to tracks and document my explorations – and I will (literally) keep you posted on that front later on. Until then – here is a general overview of the main ideas thus far – minus all the details!

Nina's Lit Reivew Infographic

Nina’s Lit Reivew Infographic

Happy International Women’s Day! There is much going on internationally to celebrate this day. I was very impressed with the diverse and comprehensive coverage that the ABC had on offer for the whole week, in fact, to draw attention to all manner of issues relating to gender, women and equality.

Filipino and Timorese experiences

Given my specific interest in gender education, this day provides a great platform to access and interact with the political and social milieu surrounding women’s issues. It is troubling that so much of the discourse surrounding gender issues is interrelated with other sociocultural problems such as poverty and violence. I caught an interesting item from RN Breakfast, where a former Filipino politician Liza Maza was being interviewed about the state of women in her country, which has seen an increase by 200% of violence against women and children in the last 5 years.

In many places around the world, many of these issues are systemic, ingrained and normalised. When I was working in Timor-Leste, I remember hearing a Development Facilitator tell his story of introducing and running a Gender Mainstreaming Program there. It was very well received and involved a lot of topics related to gender sensitivity. The workshop had great attendance and interest by community leaders and locals – both men and women. At the end of this intensive course, during the debriefing session when they were reflecting about the most significant changes and outcomes, one male participant said that it had all been very interesting, but that the biggest change for him was that he had to ‘beat his wife more now than before’ because the workshop had given her ‘ideas’.

These Filipino and Timorese realities are so far outside my own daily experience, yet it is paramount to be mindful that such situations occur daily for other women – and to do what little we can in our own way to effect positive change for all. I heard a call to action during Liza Mazza’s interview for people to do one thing each day that moves us towards some kind of positive change.

Salute the strong men!

My one activity to bring about change in light of insurmountable and devastating statistics about gender-based violence elsewhere in the world is to recognize and move towards the positive – and to thank the beautiful, brave and progressive men around the world who support and champion women’s issues, in little and big ways. On days such as this one, when the focus is squarely on women, I’d like to give my sincere gratitude to the amazing men around the world – many of whose names we will never know, but who, in their own small ways have done some action to support the women in their lives and communities.

To these strong and honorable men – I salute and thank you!

international-womens-day

Source: Dining for Women