Thursday, April 1, 2010

Arivoli Iyakkam Cycling Initiative in Tamil Nadu

Arivoli is an NGO which focuses on improving the literacy levels of poor rural women in Tamil Nadu. In 1992 they introduced an additional program to empower women by teaching them to cycle. After facing initial social pressures not to cycle, over 100, 000 women have learnt to cycle and now use bicycles as a transport method. It improves self esteem, independence from male family members, income earning potential, health, lost time spent time waiting for transport and the ability to access places which are further from their homes or bus routes. 

A recent study on the project shown that the initiative has lead to a huge increase in the number of women who can and do cycle in Tamil Nadu. The study also suggests that women's sense of self confidence is improved by their ability to cycle. However there are still many issues which prevent cycling having a positive impact on these women's lives such as limited access to bicycles and an increase in their expected work load when they have a bicycle.

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