There are endless examples out there of women’s ability to motivate for change. During the flag off for WRWR (Women Riders World Relay) Kenya and Tanzania chapter, the Director of Road Safety at NTSA (National Transport and Safety Authority – Kenya) Mr. Katelo shared a deep message that left me thinking about my role in road safety. Captured on video here, he highlighted the role of women in road safety and their contribution.
Women are incredibly influential as mothers, sisters, wives, teachers, aunts and friends. They are uniquely equipped to use this power to change behavior in a positive way. We have an advantage of always being near people, youngsters and the real needs of the society, and therefore play a great role in advocacy for change.
As women, we can influence change in driver’s behavior by involving our families and friends and asking them to put their hands up for road safety. More importantly each person can make a difference and reduce the number of accidents on our roads, simply by becoming more aware of poor driving and road use habits and adopting driving & road use patterns that promote Road Safety.
We have a number of amazing women carrying this message on their backs everyday as they go about their daily routine. This International Women’s Day/Month, I am celebrating one woman who is using her motorcycle to generate an income and leading by example in advocacy for road safety in her industry.
While most of the women riders will be riding to their offices or for travel, Cynthia’s motorcycle is her office. Whenever she is on it, she is counting money in. When she is done working, she uses it to commute and travel too but only after making money with it. I had an opportunity to speak to her more about her riding and here is her story.
What is your name and how old are you?
My name is Cynthia Muniu and am 50 years old.
What do you ride and how long have you been riding?
I ride a UM 125 cc motorcycle. I have been riding for the past 5 years. Besides motorcycles, I also love riding horses. That is my other hobby.
Have you met other women who ride motorcycles and what would you say about women bikers’ community?
I know a few women who ride and they are more friendlier and welcoming than the men I have met. I tried to join a club, sent several messages but never received any response and so I don’t belong to any of the women bikers club. Women are very competitive by nature and the women riders are no exemption. For the longest, women riders have been viewed negatively. There are those who ride for fun, others for business (though extremely few) and there are those who ride because of the confidence and strength that come with it. Together we are changing the narrative and more people are showing respect to bikers in general. Culturally the society always gives more care and concern to women than men and having women on bikes is changing how the public perceives bikers. People no longer know who is in the helmet (woman or man).
How do you think women bikers can contribute to the society?
There are a number of important areas that we can address as women bikers. Issues affecting women both riding and health wise, supporting each other more during our riding career, being more involved in advocating for safe riding, road safety and generally a good culture of sharing the road. Another very important issue we can take up as women bikers is educating boda boda riders. I believe a woman’s voice is so powerful and we can change the culture by involving their wives and families in the campaign. Sharing the importance of safe riding, safety gear, customer service and personal grooming.
Tell us more about your riding career.
Like earlier mentioned, I have been riding for the past 5 years. I use my motorcycle mainly to do business. It is also my sole mode of transport so anywhere I go, I love to ride instead of taking buses and matatus.
What kind of business do you do?
- When I first started riding, I just wanted to save on transport cost and time. Then, I was in a situation where I needed funds and saw an opportunity to earn an income in delivery business. I have realized that people trust women more to deliver their goods safely but unfortunately there are very few of us in this business. It has also given me an opportunity to advocate for safe riding and road safety as well. I ask my clients to give me realistic delivery timelines because I need to be safe on the road and must obey the traffic rules.
What are your best experiences riding a motorcycle as a woman and how has it changed your life?
- The shock on peoples faces when they realize am a woman is always astonishing. It makes me feel good, excited, tough and so proud of myself. The other one is the fact that I can ride to any place I want. These two are my best. Riding has helped build my confidence, patience and I now enjoy the road more.
What would you like to see differently in the motorcycle community and especially for women?
I would love to see strong women clubs that are more inclusive of different women riders. A ladies riding school with women instructors would also be a great addition to our community. We should encourage more women to join riding and use our voices to advocate more for road safety among other prevailing women issues.
What is that one thing that annoys you the most about drivers and other road users?
The driving culture on our roads is one that has the least respect for anyone not in a car. I am greatly annoyed by people who over take and think we have no right to be on the road and push you off the road. There are those who hate the fact that you are in front of them and so, they HAVE to over take you even when it is not safe.
A message or advice to any woman who would want to start riding for business.
Believe in yourself and your idea, find that niche, find how you can add value to what you are offering don’t just copy, have the passion for what you’re doing, don’t give up and don’t always listen to people they are not always right.
Take care of your motorcycle, always wear safety gear and ride safe.
I must say I am the first to take this advice.
Cynthia operates her business from Kiambu and does deliveries in Nairobi CBD, Thika and Kiambu town. She can be reached on telephone number +254 751 003 884