2013 Projects
Bicycle Power Exchange
Daphna Lewinshtein

Our challenge is a global one. Gender discrimination varies from society to society and from individual to individual and in this global world it is truly a trans-societal issue. In response, we present an inclusive empowerment project which is both concrete and conceptual.

Our specific challenge is to facilitate the self-empowerment projects of women and girls who are survivors of human slavery in the Kokrajhar region of Assam, India. The Nedan Trust, a rescue and rehabilitation home for girls from the region who have escaped human slavery (predominantly forced prostitution) has stated that their greatest challenge is helping these women and girls build self-esteem and self-worth. A task which is doubly difficult given that these women and girls have been subjected to not only the oppression of slavery but have also been raised in a culture which actively represses females.

A century ago, Susan B. Anthony said that the bicycle “has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world… it gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance.” Today, The State of Bihar is seeing similar results with female bike ownership. The women and girls of Nedan have expressed an interest in bikes, which are costly yet viable tools in rural India.

Human slavery impacts individuals, families, and societies locally and globally. Our project aims to assist in the empowerment projects of a very specific group, however it’s method includes the empowerment of families, and individuals, in Kokrajhar and around the world.

Our Solution: A Bicycle Exchange!
Our projects first priority is the women and girls of Nedan and their empowerment goals. The project will involve a series of empowerment workshops (in bike maintenance and operation), follow-up, and support. The project also involves (Kokrajhar area) working class families, to be approached as potential philanthropists. Their donated will enable a local woman or girl to acquire a first bicycle.

The project is as follows:

  1. Solicit bicycle donations from Kokrajhar area families who rely on their bicycle for their livelihood. Their donated bike is then exchanged (replaced) with a new Indian bicycle.
  2. Distribute new Indian bicycles to the women and girls of Nedan. Along with a series of empowerment workshops in bike operation and maintenance given by women cyclists.
  3. Produce a magazine – catalogue of the donated bicycles and their stories. These authentic, vintage Indian work bikes are offered in exchange for significant financial donations from global patrons.

We have visited Kokrajhar (August 2012) and assessed the viability of the project with regard to the woman and girls, Nedan, and the local population. The costs for the local bikes have been established and a partnership and costs established for the export of the donated bikes. U.S. interest has been tested through a booth at the N.Y. Maker Faire (Sept. 2012)

Similar: Bihar attributes it’s two-thirds reduction in it’s high-school dropout rate to their girl-empowering initiative to provide all high-school aged girls new bicycles.

Dissimilar: any scheme that exports donated American bikes.


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