The African woman faces very many cultural limitations which hinder their participation leadership, governance and development. Traditionally, African women are not supposed to partake or do certain things like taking up leadership positions, riding bicycles, climbing trees even eating some foods like meat among other things. They are supposed to stay at home and take care of their husbands, children and homes. Women were raised to submit and serve their husbands and the other men in society.
In the Ankole culture riding bicycles by women is viewed as immoral and a threat to their cultural norms. It is shameful and embarrassing. This is maybe not only be in Ankole but in many other African cultures as well!
Now what would happen if women defied these unfair practices in their communities?
Women in Ankole- Rukararwe Bushenyi district, Western Uganda decided to turn the societal patriarchal women prejudices around by taking part in a women bicycle race that was organized by Solidarity Uganda. Besides enjoying the ridding, women acquired different gifts and the women also committed to keep ridding in order to keep healthy and also break barriers presented by cultural norms and beliefs.
The women have gone ahead to organize bicycle riding caravans across the whole district in order to inspire and empower more women to break the societal and patriarchal bondage of injustices and inequality towards women in their communities.
From this empowerment, women have been able to confidently participate in the local council elections in order to take up leadership. It is unfortunate however that some women still had to deal with resistance from their husbands who do not deem them capable of being a voice in their communities. Some were also threatened divorce which made them withdraw from the elections.
Besides the bicycle caravan, sensitization and awareness meetings from emancipated women, have been ongoing to encourage other women to come up and defy the traditional set up. However, there are still communities that bully women to keep in the kitchen and never think of coming out!
We are in a time when women must be empowered to participate in leadership, governance and all other development arenas alongside their male counterparts.
Let the women Ride!