The 1,5 billion women challenge

Pedalista, Surakarta, Indonesia

SDG 1: No povertySDG 3: Good health and well-beingSDG 5: Gender equalitySDG 8: Decent work and economic growthSDG 10: Reduced inequalitiesSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
Pedalista is an initiative within the larger programme Women on Wheels, supporting and teaching women to use one of the most sustainable transportation options, the bicycle. The project was founded in 2015 and is currently operating in Sweden and Indonesia. The aim of Pedalista is to improve women’s mobility, increasing their freedom and independence. Hence, the bicycle works as a tool to reach positive social alternative values, especially to people living in poor areas or low-income countries.

In many parts of the world, bikes are used almost solely by men due to social conventions saying that women should not bicycle. This is for example the case in Surakarta, Indonesia. A common challenge that Pedalista faces here is the idea that the bicycle should not be used for transportation, but only as a leisure activity for men. As a consequence, places reachable by bicycling are often occupied by men. Generally, men enjoy the perks and freedom attained by biking while women avoid the risks that traffic can bring. Hence, another challenge is undeveloped infrastructure and lack of public transportation. Many streets in Surakarta are forbidden for bicycling since the car is prioritised.

Good practice & solutions

Engagement and communication with the target group (women without access to bicycling) throughout the whole process is fundamental. Using the bicycle to increase empowerment and create societal change at the local level contribute to community development through an approach of increasing inclusion and gender equality. The project is developing a toolbox to be used in other social, cultural and geographical contexts. The toolbox contains methods, approaches and knowledge needed to increase women’s ability to use a bike.

Outcome & opportunities

One outcome from the project is raised community awareness of new ways of transportation. The project has highlighted infrastructural and social barriers preventing women’s mobility and making the women themselves aware of these barriers. An overview of existing barriers is achieved by implementing a gender perspective, something that has been well received by decision makers and local governance in Surakarta. A bicycle is not only a tool to get from point A to point B. It could also provide an opportunity to move out of poverty, create an ability for a safe way to school, implement an independent and healthier lifestyle, favour better integration into society, as well as better access to public spaces.

Lessons learned

Due to social and cultural norms women tend to carry a larger responsibility for household and childcare. This situation has an impact on their travel pattern. Their travel routes and mobility patterns are more complicated than men’s. Women often make several stops when traveling to ensure their caring responsibilities, and they often travel with kids, other family members or goods. By applying a gender perspective to mobility, the bicycle becomes a solution to ease women’s burdens when using the urban public space that meet many of their specific needs. However, bicycling needs to become more accessible to everyone, including men.

Related SDG targets
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
  • 3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks
  • 5.b Enhance the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women
  • 8.3 Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
  • 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
  • 17.17 Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil
    society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships
Further reading

Photo: © Women on Wheels

FacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy Link

Project: Urban Girls Movement