Baraa Mahmoud, Sport Against Violence organization
Cycling is one of the most accessible sports, great for staying healthy, and can even boost energy. For the second consecutive year, Babylon Tower Foundation in cooperation with the Sport Against Violence organization held the “I Have A Dream, I Have A Bicycle” festival on 16 February 2019 along Abu Nawas street in Karrada. The festival was held under the ongoing activities of the Iraqi Social Forum.
“Riding a bicycle is a normal thing that everyone can do, not only men but also women. Women are half of the society and there is no difference between women and men,” said Ahrar Zelzal, media coordinator of the festival. “About 300 people participated in the festival. I was surprised by the number of girls and women who participated in the event. They exceeded 40% of the number of participants in the festival!”
Sport Against Violence organization aims to defend women’s participation in sport, the right of women to practice all kinds of sports, and specifically to practice their right to ride bicycles through the streets of Baghdad. “This was the second time in a row we hosted this event. But we do not want limit ourselves to just this area of the city! We want to spread this sport across the whole of Baghdad. We want to promote the use of bicycles as a social and healthy sports phenomenon, which can even reduce car traffic in the streets,” said Baraa Mahmoud, Sport Against Violence coordinator. “This event is about showing the cultural face of Baghdad,” she added.
One of the participants in the event, Rana Hussain, said, “My participation in the festival is to support and encourage women to ride bicycles in the streets every day. Most women hesitate to use bicycles because of the criticism they face from people, but I am determined to use this small vehicle on the streets, and my family supports me doing so.” Babylon Tower Foundation cooperates with the Iraqi Social Forum and its various masarat (paths), and provides volunteers for events, festivals, and races. Now in its second year, “I Have A Dream, I Have A Bicycle” festival, in collaboration with the Sport Against Violence organization, aims to expand cycling activities by bringing together groups of cyclists every Friday to ride the streets of Baghdad.