Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
At a conference in Jan 2011, I heard eminent South Asian environmentalist Sunita Narain say that South Asians should be “riding bicycles instead of cars not because we are poor, but because we are rich”. Although Narain provided an environmentalist’s prescription for decreasing reliance on dirty transport, her words struck a personal chord on empowerment.
As an educated, upwardly mobile, independent woman in Bangladesh—“rich” by all measures, I never rode a bicycle. I justified travelling by car by blaming dangerous traffic, lack of pedestrian infrastructure, inimitable heat and harassment by male pedestrians. I was a strong and vocal woman in the confines of home or work, but I stepped outdoors with car-shaped armour as protection from staring, poking and lewd comments aimed at women of all ages and backgrounds in Bangladesh.
Only 2 out of every 1000 people own a car in Bangladesh and thousands of women step outside their homes each day, leading a one woman army, to work, for education, recreation and to exercise the fundamental human right of freedom of mobility. Verbal and physical harassment is so normalized that we've coined a euphemisms such as ‘eve-teasing’ to describe this. Limitations to mobility also limit economic and social participation affect all strata of society. This realization drove me to start Arohi as way for women to define mobility themselves using a simple tool-the bicycle.
(I am a development professional with professional experience in access to finance & female empowerment and degree in economics.)