Cycling to success: A road to empowerment for rural girls in India
Although major strides are being made worldwide to reduce the gender gap in education, there continue to be significant barriers to girls’ education and empowerment—particularly for adolescent girls. In India, a country where dominant patriarchal norms continue to persist, the birth of a girl is still a cause for mourning. India has a long way to go to ensure that every girl has the opportunity to complete secondary school. Fortunately, simple interventions, like the humble bicycle, which can promote accessibility to distant schools, and providing life skills education can increase school retention rates, improve learning outcomes, and reduce early marriages.
Despite the many efforts made by the Indian government and nonprofits, the high drop-out rate of girls, particularly in rural areas, leads to 47 percent of girls getting married before the legal age of 18, and 20 percent before their 15th year. In addition to child marriages, some of the major barriers to educational attainment for adolescent girls are a lack of access to secondary schools in rural areas and social mind sets among parents that do not value the importance of educating daughters as compared to sons.