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October 12, 2018

Lyari’s girls cycle at Sea View to mark International Day of the Girl Child


October 12, 2018

To mark International Day of the Girl Child, Lyari Girls Café organised an event at Sea View. A large number of young women participated in the event that featured a range of activities, including cycling and tableau performances.

The café arranged four buses to transport girls and their mothers to Sea View. The girls were divided at the venue into their respective groups of cycling, tableau performances and others.

A 12-year-old girl, Rizwana Bano, who had learnt riding a cycle from instructors at the café, shared her experiences. “We don’t have a bicycle at home. I started learning cycling by watching a person who would come to our area on a cycle. Then, people from the Lyari Girls Café were teaching cycling to girls and I too learnt from them, however, I was not sure if I would be able to ride in public because my brother is strictly against it,” she said.

“I am also glad that I was able to wear clothes of my liking today because he [brother] has disallowed me to wear tights but I got lucky as he was sleeping,” Rizwana winked. She added that her parents had no issues with her interest in cycling.

Wearing fancy sunglasses, Esha, who had befriended Rizwana during the riding training, said she learnt the basics of cycling from her brothers who encouraged her to ride their cycle.

Trying to get hold of a suitable bicycle for her, Unzila, 18, said it took her great pains to learn to ride. A resident of Mauripur, she had fallen many times previously and was feeling nervous about the ride even though the distance was not large. Her friend Dua, on the other hand, felt more confident because she had also tried her hand at car driving.

Before the cycling began, women raised slogans in support of girls’ cycling and women empowerment. Some grandmothers had also come to he event to support their cycling granddaughters, such as Fatima who was seen rooting for her granddaughter Bisma whose feet were on pedals.

Speaking about International Day for the Girl Child, Kiran Usman Ghani of the Lyari Girls Café said the day was first marked by the United Nations eight years ago but is usually not given much attention in Pakistan.

“We have taken the step of commemorating the day and decided to start from Lyari under our name because such events are a rarity there. Another reason for promoting cycling is that we want a pollution free country,” she said, adding that the café had also included local games in the event like Langri Pala, Tippi and carrom to bring back the forgotten Lyari where those games were once played on streets.

Cycling is a weekly feat for girls of Lyari as they pick one point each week and cycle towards it in groups, Kiran said, adding that such activities inculcated confidence in girls and helped them reclaim public spaces. The German consul general also attended the event among others.

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