Now women biking and cycling is not an unfamiliar event in Bangladesh. Many of us often notice that young girls and women are riding motor cycle, Scooti in Dhaka city roads and outskirts. Some of them also take another person in the back seat of her carrier. But a decade back this scenario was very much unfamiliar in Dhaka city. People were not used to see this scenario in Dhaka even some years ago. We know Dhaka has now become a overpopulated city. Commuters are now facing severe problem to go one place to another place in the city area for lack of convenient transport. Even the students are facing this sort problem to go to their institutions. Everybody concerned on this matter think about this problem but no tangible or appropriate measure is yet to be developed. We all know that it is a major problem of city dwellers nowadays. In this situation biking can also contribute to ease the problems facing by the women and girls students. And it can symbolize the empowerment and confidence of women in our society. In the middle class families of urban areas biking are getting popular among the girls and one can notice many times that girls are learning biking in lanes, by lanes and open fields in the cities. Apart from this scenario cycling by girls students is familiar in some areas of northern and south-western districts in Bangladesh. Many of us even do not know the girls students in rural areas are using bicycles to go to their schools and colleges. We can say this is one kind of development in our society. And gradually girls are going forward. With the times this situation has to contribute a big impact on our social development.
Maybe, in the mid-seventies Gonoshastho Kendro of Savar introduced cycling for their working women. Even before that sculptor Shameem Shikdar used to cycling in the roads of Dhaka during sixties. And in the early eighties we saw many women bikers working in rural areas under Care International's different programs. Particularly they worked with the officials of Relief and Rehabilitation ministry in the remote areas. Probably the rural people first noticed the women bikers for Care International's activities. It was astonishing that motor cycle riding and biking was not that much popular in busy roads in Dhaka during nineties of last century. But after 2000 motor cycle biking in Dhaka increases manifolds and the number of motorcycles is still increasing very fast day by day in Dhaka and other cities as well as rural areas. After introducing ride sharing apps in Dhaka, Ctg the number of motor cycles in the roads is now jumping manifolds. One can easily notice this scenario in the busy intersections and traffic signal points in Dhaka and Chattogram. Among the bike riders there are some women bikers registering their names in the ride sharing apps. Though the number is few but this trend is the sign of one kind of social change as the women are coming to this profession and earning money to support their families. But out of this ride sharing women bikers there are a good number of women biker in Dhaka city. One can notice them in busy roads' traffic signals, streets and lanes and by lanes in Dhaka. And this is not unfamiliar in Dhaka nowadays. Apart from this scenario many women bikers are now seen in different places in Bangladesh. Gradually the numbers of women bikers are increasing day by day.
We know 6-7 assembling plants of motor cycles are now functioning in Bangladesh. These plants assemble motor cycles with their brand names. Even 2-3 Bangladeshi companies produce motor cycles and have created their own brand names. This is also a positive sigh of industrial sector in Bangladesh. To popularize women biking those companies should take special initiatives to make women easy accessible to motor bikes, In this way venturing with banks a soft loan for owning motor cycle or scooti for women may be introduced. This initiative can also contribute to easing public transport system in Bangladesh.
Apart from this some companies with their names are now exporting motor cycles to the neighboring countries. We came to know this from the print and electronic media. Despite this development a huge number of bicycles are now being exported to European countries from Bangladesh. Bangladesh has now one of the major bicycle exporting nations to the European market. In the European markets and streets of those countries one can easily notice the bicycles of 'made in Bangladesh'. This is also a sign of industrial advancement of Bangladesh. So, introducing women as bicyclists and bikers is one kind of women empowerment in Bangladesh. In the rural areas in Bangladesh women riding bicycles is not an unfamiliar event. Many school and college girls are using bicycles to go to their educational institutions. Gradually this trend is inflating in northern and south-western districts in Bangladesh.
In this situation Banks and money lending institutions should come forward to support the women who intend to have a motor bike or bicycle. We know many of our girl students have not that financial capacity to buy motor bikes or bicycles. For that reason these institutions can provide soft loans with low interest rate. If that is so the scenarios of rural Bangladesh might be changed within a short span of time. We will see the changes in the roads as plenty of bikes and bicycles have to be seen in different areas in Bangladesh.
After nineties significant changes happened in the women education in rural areas. Anyone could notice that girl students used to go to schools with school uniform in that time. This picture is so familiar now that their bright face and jolly mood indicate their confidence of future life. Definitely it is the result of 'upabritti' program of the government. So facilitating soft loans to girl students and women for buying motor bike and bicycle might contribute empowerment of women folk in Bangladesh. But at the same time road safety is more important. We know life is more valuable than time and anything. None can deny this. Recently we marked many news regarding road accidents happening in Bangladesh. Many emotional stories were published after those accidents. Many of those victims are students and women. So authorities concerned should also look into this matter.
So women biking and cycling should be encouraged by the appropriate authorities in the days to come. Vietnam, one of the South Asian nations is much more ahead in this sector. Hundreds of thousands Vietnamese women are using motor bike for their daily work. So this is our time to promote women biking and cycling in our country. And in this way many of us need not be stranded on the roads hours after hours for convenient public transport.
Dr. Syed Nesar Ahmad Rumy, Former Civil Servant, Dhaka
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