How cycling set deprived Indian girls on a life-long journey | Bike blog | Environment ... - 0 views
In Bihar, one of India's poorest and most populous states, half of the women and a quarter of the men are illiterate, and about 90% of its 104 million inhabitants live in rural areas. Life here is particularly difficult for girls, and one of the greatest hindrances to their development is the simple journey to school. For many, the trip is long, expensive and dangerous.
But here, in rural Bihar, we recently saw that a two-wheeled solution to the problem has been found.
Three years ago the state's new chief minister Nitish Kumar adopted a "gender agenda" and set about redressing his state's endemic gender imbalances in an attempt to boost development in one of India's most backward states. His vision was to bring a sense of independence and purpose to his state's young women, and the flagship initiative of this agenda is the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna, a project that gives schoolgirls 2,000 rupees (about £25) to purchase a bicycle.
871,000 schoolgirls have taken to the saddle as a result of the scheme. The number of girls dropping out of school has fallen and the number of girls enrolling has risen from 160,000 in 2006-2007 to 490,000 now.
Girls like Pinki Kumari (15), a student from the high school in Desari, previously had 14km round trip each day. When she got back home, she would have to help her mother with daily chores. "At the end of the day, it became tiring and attending school became a ritual. I hardly got any time to study,"