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The Engine Inside: A look at Female Bicycle Change Makers

female cyclist Nouran Salah

woman riding a bike

Photo Credit: Omar Zain

The Engine Inside Documentary

Spotlight on female cyclist Nouran Salah

In June 2023, Piscitello Law shared a post about the premiere of the documentary "The Engine Inside" in Philadelphia. The film, hosted by the Philadelphia Bike Expo and the University of the Arts, was well-attended and received strong reviews. The documentary sheds light on six inspiring individuals around the world who are using bicycles as engines for change. The film makes the case that bikes can address global issues like gender inequality and climate change. Let's take a closer look at one of the female cyclists featured in the film: Nouran Salah.

people in a auditorium

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Bike Expo

Nouran Salah and the Cairo Cycling Geckos

Nouran Salah, based in Cairo, started the Cairo Cycling Geckos, a women's cycling club formed to challenge the narrative that cycling is taboo and not appropriate for females in Egypt. The club empowers women through their use and enjoyment of bikes while also raising money and awareness. The Cairo Geckos is the first female cycling initiative in Egypt to specifically empower women. The group is also unique in its mission to organize and run charity rides to raise awareness and funds for those in need. Since the Cairo Cycling Geckos has begun, there are monthly organized bike rides in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Cairo and remote villages. Salah's work exemplifies the potential of using bikes as a vehicle for change and challenging societal norms.

group of bike riders

Photo Credit: Cairo Cycling Geckos

Female Cyclists promoting change in Muslim Countries

Egypt, like many other Muslim countries, have long standing societal restrictions and norms surrounding cycling as it relates to females. Some Muslim countries require female cyclists be accompanied by a male, while other countries ban female cycling altogether. In 2016 Iran issued a fatwa banning female cycling in public. Independent, solo female cyclists are certainly not the norm in Muslim regions. However, initiatives like the Cairo Cycling Geckos are challenging these stigmas and encouraging women to ride bikes freely. Other female cyclists in the region have helped to chip away at long standing restrictions, including Hamsa Mansour, who cycled solo for eight days around the Red Sea on Sinai roads in 2017. Although Hamsa’s work was not included in the Engine Inside Documentary, her efforts are certainly groundbreaking and worth mentioning here.

Hamsa Masour photo

Photo Credit: Hamsa Masour

Blog post about cycling in Muslim Countries

Heike Pirngruber, a German cyclist has been cycling around the world since 2013. She has documented her travels in a blog called “my life on two wheels.” Heike devotes a blog post on Traveling by Bicycling in Muslim Countries – what to expect. She shares first-hand experiences from cyclists who have lived and traveled through Muslim countries by bicycle. Her blog post can be found here.

Heike Pirnbruber photo

Photo Credit: Heike Pirngruber

Gender Equality and Cycling

"The Engine Inside" highlights the role of bicycles in promoting gender equality, among other objectives. Women's rights movements worldwide recognize the bicycle as a tool to empower women, provide freedom of movement, access to education and employment, and challenge social norms. Nouran Salah's initiative, the Cairo Cycling Geckos, plays a crucial role in reshaping perceptions and empowering women through cycling in Egypt. It is wonderful to see her work highlighted in the Engine Inside Documentary. Around the globe, there are many other inspiring female cyclists who are using the bicycle as a vehicle for change. Kudos to female cyclists like Nouran Salah, Hamsa Masour, and Heike Pirngruber.

The Engine Inside Documentary

"The Engine Inside" invites viewers to reconsider their own relationship with bicycles and to join the movement that promotes bicycles as instruments of change. This powerful documentary has been shown in various countries since the world premiere in Amsterdam on June 3, 2023. At some point during the summer 2023, the film will be available to download on iTunes, google apps etc. For more info on the Engine Inside, you can click here.

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