WOMEN, CLAIM THE SPACES, THIS SPACE IS YOURS TOO!

April 26, 2018   Filed under Report / Blog    Please Subscribe our Youtube Channel


Sambida Sangat Nepal.

“In Every 20-25 Kms distance I rode, either in Nepal or India, people asked me the same question: A woman cyclist? From India to Nepal? Alone? What about your safety?!” Sabita Mahato.

In 2017, Sabita cycled to 29 states in India covering 1, 25,000 Kms. This year, in April 2018, Sabita packed her bags and left India to Nepal with her cycle to continue her dream of having a world cycle tour. Sabita is a 23 years old fierce and a dedicated young woman who is a cyclist and a mountaineering guide. She started off her journey from India to Nepal with a message: ‘Paddle for safety’ and ‘Silence hides violence’.

“In every 3 seconds a rape case is registered in the world”, Sabita shared, “Rape cases and violence happens in our families and start from there.” Sabita suggested that women should come out of the walls of their rooms and raise their voices against violence. Women are forced and suggested to remain inside their houses and are thought be safe there as long as they do not come out and claim the public spaces.

On 24t​ h April, 2018, Sangat Nepal in collaboration with TEWA and Story Cycle organized a one day event which had 12 cyclists and about 35 participants. After completing 1600 Kms ride from Delhi to Nepal, Sabita reached Kathmandu and met young women cyclists, friends from different feminist organizations, the young groups who are interested in story-telling and shared her experiences and thoughts. On this day the young women cycled, listened to Sabita’s personal experience about her life and hardships that she had to face as a woman, laughed with her and had fun and got encouraged.

Sabita shared that she wanted to continue her carrier as a volleyball player. “I could not continue to be volleyball player”, She smiled and said,” Because, I had to wear shorts while playing volleyball, my family did not want me to be a volleyball player. And, then I changed my mind and thought about getting into mountaineering. I tried to convince my parents that unlike volleyball, in mountaineering I would have to wear thick clothes and would cover all parts of my body. But, initially, mountaineering was also a problem for my family because mountaineering needs a lot of time dedication out of the house and I would have to be away from the family for the longer time. Later my parents acquiesced and let me do what I wanted to do. I finally convinced them.”
Young women like Sabita in many places of the world including Nepal have to either forget about or quit thinking about their dreams and aspirations only because of certain restrictions on their mobility and their bodies. While Sabita’s life story exemplifies this to a greater extent, the young women who met Sabita empathized with her and also felt encouraged by her will power and constant effort to follow her dreams.

Sabita shared that she found people in Nepal very encouraging and supportive in comparison to the places in India where she had to face street harassments. She was happy to find many helpful hands to make her trip successful from different parts of Nepal to Kathmandu. “If you do good to others, you will find many good people to help you,” Sabita mentioned.

“We started as two cyclists, me and my friend in India. My friend quit after a street harassment incident. I am still continuing. I want to make a world tour in cycle!” Sabita happily shared.

One of the attendees of the event asked,” It is difficult for women in Nepal and places in India like Bihar, what is the response of people in Bihar about your cycle ride? Have they encouraged you?”. Sabita answered, “People do not encourage a woman in these matters. They have always discouraged me about this. But, I took this discouragement as a motivation. The discouragement has motivated me to continue and do things that I want to. However, two women from Bihar, Sabitri and Urmila who were among the people who discouraged me initially have now started cycling to different states recently.”

Sabita is an illumination of hope and source of inspiration to many women and young girls who think they are not good enough and they can’t do what they want to just because their society, their friends and families think they can’t and should not do it. Sabita’s cycle ride to many countries also ignites the feeling of global solidarity among people with one mission on raising voices against woman, discrimination based on the basis of gender and equality.

“I am ready for the world tour. My next destination is Bhutan,” Sabita enthusiastically shared. We wish Sabita all the best for her future endeavors and also encourage her to paddle with the message of women’s power and solidarity.

[Photo :Mr. Ganesh Bhandari from StoryCycle ]