On a long road to freedom
Women take bike-riding lessons from MOWO
On a cloudy yet pleasant day, Nagamani pads up to protect her knees and wears a helmet. But she isn’t getting ready to bat at the nets. The cheerful 60-year-old is out to ride a motorbike along with 20 other women at Swami Vivekananda Ground at MIG Colony in Lingampally. The scene is a mix of fear and enthusiasm, and the women are determined to learn riding under the mentorship of Moving Women or MOWO.
MOWO, a social enterprise, is offering free bike riding lessons to underprivileged women. It is a culmination of years of effort by its founder Jai Bharathi, who has passion for riding two-wheelers. “Many women lack confidence to ride irrespective of how good they are. Riding motorcycle not only makes women confident, but empowers them as they are free to go wherever they want on their own,” says Ms. Bharathi, who has turned her passion into a social initiative in the form of MOWO. The bike riding camps that last for a week and two, start with teaching basic driving rules and road safety measures, which allows women to apply for learners’ license (LL) test. Once they clear the test, the practical riding sessions begin.
MOWO charges ₹2,000 per person. But those who cannot afford it, the classes are free. Through various bike expeditions with the support of sponsors, its founder has been trying to make the enterprise self-reliant. In fact, it’s not a bad start. In just one year – from November 2017 to December 2018 –, MOWO has offered free bike riding lessons to around 265 women in the city. Moreover, it has generated many employment opportunities for women in delivery services, according to Ms. Bharathi.
MOWO’s efforts have ended up inspiring other women to follow suit. That includes Ms. Nagamani, the senior-most pupil at 60, but an active learner. Rani, a businesswoman, is ready to devote three hours every day to learning how to ride amid her other responsibilities. Lalitha from Isnapur travels 20 km daily to learn bike-riding.
Rani’s reason? “I used to see other women riding bikes so confidently. I was fascinated by it and had a desire to do the same. Moreover, it could help me home-deliver clothes from my dry cleaning shop, by myself,” she said.
From a homemaker to a working woman, an 18-year-old college girl to a 60-year-old woman, MOWO is helping them take the road less travelled – fuelling and driving their dreams.