Can a bike bring people together and break down cultural barriers?

Bicycles are one of the most common and ubiquitous forms of transportation. They have made the world accessible to millions of people across the globe.

In some places, though, for women and girls riding bicycles is a social taboo or completely outlawed, putting them at a disadvantage for social mobility both literally and figuratively.

Today on Saturdays Around the World, National Geographic Adventurer and cyclist Shannon Gilpin takes us to Afghanistan to see a different side of the country. Her work there is helping to break social norms and fight for equality one bike ride at a time.

I love this piece because it gives the world a glimpse of a beautiful country we so rarely get to see in this light!

First, a very short piece from Jennifer Tiexiera to wade us into the water on this topic (Then we’ll show you a National Geographic video that is extraordinary!):

Interesting! We had no idea this was an issue that needed advocates.

Now, here’s a piece with much more background and depth. It is absolutely amazing. The cultural insights are mind-bending and so expanding. Take a look at this video from National Geographic Live.

National Geographic is doing, supporting, and highlighting some truly amazing things in this world. And National Geographic Live is an incredible platform which they’re providing for the people who are at the forefront of exploration! Their talks are brilliant, innovative, and just different – make sure to take some time out of your day to check them out. You won’t regret it!

There are many things that struck me throughout this talk.

But her parting words about the need for those who are unaffected to be as outraged as those who are affected, really rung in my ears. Recognizing that the world impacts people in different ways because of circumstances outside of our control is so critical to our future.

I was also left with an appreciation of the fact that there are many ways we can affect major systems by working for small changes. Empowering women in Afghanistan to ride bicycles will not, on its own, create gender equality, but it is a tool that can bring that ultimate goal one step closer.

Shannon has another project we may tell you more about in the future, but it’s another interesting departure from the routines of normalcy. Check out,  Mountain 2 Mountain if you get a chance.

How many problems are out there with these kinds of disruptive starter solutions? We feature so many of them here at EWC every day that we can’t be anything but excited about the possibilities for a better world.

Scroll down this page to be inspired by a few more of them!

So, what power do you have to create change? How are you poised to make even the smallest positive impact on those around you? Perhaps if we thought in these terms more often we would be more empowered to work toward a more optimistic future.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!


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  1. Tiexiera, Jennifer. “Afghan Cycles Trailer.” Vimeo, 14 July 2020, Accessed 14 July 2020.
  2. Galpin, Shannon. “Biking the Path to Equality for Afghanistan’s Women.”National Geographic Live. National Geographic, 6 July 2015. Web. 27 Oct. 2016. <>.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

CEO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and is now the CEO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often root-tripping—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV