Access to bicycles improves lives of women, girls in rural Zambia

  • World
  • Friday, 23 Feb 2024

MPONGWE, Zambia, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Over the years, bicycles have emerged as a catalyst for change, offering newfound independence, opportunities, and freedom to many women and girls in rural Zambia.

One of the places in the country that has seen a rise in the number of women and girls using bicycles as a means of transport is Mpongwe, a district in Copperbelt Province.

It is common to see women and girls riding bicycles in Mpongwe, a predominantly rural community.

Charity Chanda, a 37-year-old vegetable trader, said owning a bicycle has transformed her life and enhanced her business.

"Before, I would walk for hours carrying heavy loads of vegetables to the market, often missing out on potential buyers," she said. "Now, with my bicycle, I can transport my produce quickly and easily, reaching more customers and increasing my income."

She said more and more women in Mpongwe are investing in bicycles as a means of effective and reliable transport.

For Alice Musanshi, 35, a homemaker, owning a bicycle allows her and her family to access healthcare services faster and run daily errands with more ease.

"I can make sure that my children get healthcare services when they fall sick or need to go for vaccinations at the health facility. I also use the bicycle to go and attend community meetings and for my grocery shopping," said Musanshi, a mother of five.

Owning a bicycle has boosted her confidence and instilled in her a sense of self-reliance, she added.

"In years past, it was only men that were allowed to own and ride bicycles," Musanshi said. "Today, women are working hard to save money so that they, too, can own bicycles."

"A bicycle is not just a mode of transport; it is a pathway to a better future for women and girls," she said.

And Theresa Bwalya, 15, radiated enthusiasm as she recounted her daily journey to school on her bicycle.

"With my long commute to school, having a bicycle has not only reduced the time it takes me to get there but also increased my punctuality and concentration in class," she said.

Since she started cycling to school about a year ago, her grades have improved tremendously, Bwalya said.

"I used to feel tired and exhausted as a result of walking long distances. That affected my performance in class," she said. "But that is now a thing of the past."

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