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Kurdish women love to ride their bikes. And they demonstrate it (here is how)

They don’t want men to decide for them, so Kurdish women stand up for their right to ride a bike freely, also delivering books.

With orange balloons and a bicycle they are ready for a ride. They want to feel the air on their face and don’t want men to tell them not to mount on a bicycle. A group of young women held a symbolic bike ride o the city of Amuda, in Syrian Kurdistan (see video) to protest against norms that see girls on bikes as indecent. Under the slogan “free community” the girls, who named their group Newroz, state that they want to have the right to ride a bike wherever they like.

 

woman bicycle
A woman on her bike © Mario Tama/Getty Images

 

Newroz, the origin of the name

Newroz (or Nawruz or Norouz, depending on the origin and language of the person who pronounces it) is New Year’s Day for some populations of the Middle East and Central Asia, a thousand-year-old celebration inherited from the Mesopotamian populations who worshipped Zarathustra. It differs from New Year’s Eve because Newroz is celebrated in the period of the spring equinox, indeed the word literally means “new day”.

Kurdish women spread culture on their bicycles

With the same spirit some women delivered books on their bicycles in Sulaimani, in the Kurdistan region in the northeast of Iraq, aiming to spread culture and reading in Kurdistan. The activists of Sofia Group did this with the hope in mind of giving books to families, mostly those including young members, because letting Kurdish women read can have a positive impact on their offspring’s lifestyle and culture. Sofia Group is a book club mainly composed of women who want to spread the free-thought culture, conscious reading and organise events such as workshops and book distribution initiatives.

 

In December 2015 Sulaimani was also the host city of an international conference on women and human rights that was held after the events against gender violence sponsored by the UN.

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