Erbil's Cyclists Roll Through the City for the Ride On! Marathon STORY BY: AVAND HASAN/IOM IRAQ - PHOTOS: IOM 2019/RABER Y. AZIZ AND ANJAM RASOOL

Erbil - More than 300 bikers from different backgrounds, including 140 women, took part in the Ride On! Erbil International Bike Marathon on 13 December 2019. The race was the second annual bike marathon in the city.

The Ride On! Erbil International Bike Marathon promoted women’s empowerment, and biking as an eco-friendly mode of transport.

“I got my first bicycle when I was eight years old and I have not stopped riding since then. I am now a professional cyclist and I hope one day I will represent my country in a big tournament,” said Darya. “When I am on my bike I feel free, happy and strong,” she added.

The bikers included a member of parliament; renowned artist and humanitarian activist Dashni Morad; professional bikers; local and international community members; displaced Iraqis; and members of minority groups. Anyone who can ride a bike was invited to participate, and community members were also welcome as spectators.

“I have been advocating for a legislation in the parliament that will push the government to create biking lanes in the city. We need the government to get behind this because with the current infrastructure, it’s difficult to cycle in Erbil,” said Jalal Parishan, a member of parliament for the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The seven kilometer route started in the Gulan neighborhood and ended at Erbil’s world-renowned Citadel – a UNESCO world heritage site.

“Seeing women taking a proactive stance, participating in all kinds of sports, and publicizing their participation in mass media helps break down gender-allocated roles in the society,” said Dashni Murad, a renowned artist and humanitarian activist.

The event was organized by IOM with support from Asiacell, Kurdistan24, The Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Erbil, and the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG).

The event also brought together local women’s rights advocates, civil society activists and members of the international community for a lively panel discussion about “Sport as a Powerful Social Equalizer”, with a focus on women’s empowerment.


IOM Iraq © 2019