Devra Waldman – Back from doing ‘bicycles for development’ research in Pune, India

February 7, 2018

Author: Brian Wilson

In December 2017, Devra Waldman – funded by a SSHRC Insight grant entitled “Cycling Against Poverty? Researching a Sport for Development Movement and an ‘Object’ in/for Development” – spent time in Pune, India with girls and young women who are involved with an NGO that works in multiple villages to equip young girls with the skills necessary to overcome forms of discrimination and exclusion from formal education. One of the barriers to rural girls’ access to education is physical distance between their villages and the closest high schools. With unreliable or unavailable public transport, for most, the journey to high school would be too far to take. Recognizing this barrier, the NGO began a Bicycle Bank – which provided all girls with bicycles in order to help them complete their high school education. Devra interviewed young girls and women who had been recipients of bikes about their experiences receiving and using the bicycles. Devra also began a project with the girls and women that was inspired by digital participatory methodologies, where she asked the participants to take photographs that would represent the range of their experiences with their bicycles. After giving the participants time to take photographs, Devra met with them again — and the participants then shared their favourite photographs and had a conversation with Devra about what the photos represented to them. The goal of this methodology is to centre the girls’ voices and experiences in the research and in the analysis, as well as shift the focus to the bicycle as an object of/for development. The hope is to go back to the villages in the near future to  continue this work, with more participants, and over a longer time frame.