Tracy heads to India

This post has nothing to do with fitness, working out, running, or health. But it does have to do with the realization of a personal and persistent dream I’ve had since I was a teenager. I don’t know where it came from, but if there is one destination in the world that I have fixated on, yearned to see, and not yet traveled to, it’s India.

And guess where I’m going this afternoon? Yep. You guessed it. India. I’m traveling with four colleagues to the Namaste Educational Academy in Pondicherry, a coastal town in the south. We’re part of an international conference organized by The Sahitya, “a hub of faculty, scholars and lovers of literature, language, and culture.” It’s an international and interdisciplinary conference on Feminist and Gender Studies in a Global Perspective. The venue, Bonsejour, looks absolutely enchanting.

Image description: Bonsejour, a stately pure white building fronted by palm trees and a lush green lawn. The sky is bright and white.
Image description: Bonsejour, a stately pure white building fronted by palm trees and a lush green lawn. The sky is bright and white.

India is a long way and it would be a shame to go for just a few days. So we’re going to do a bit of touring of the region as well. I expect to walk a lot and take tons of pictures.

If my posts read more like travel logs than feminist fitness entries over the next couple of weeks, please forgive me. I will try to inject a fitness or health spin into each post, but I have made a decision not to pack my running gear this time because it’s just going to be too hot and I want to slow down and soak in my surroundings, not blast past them (well, okay, I’m not exactly a blast past type of runner, but still).

On the recommendation of seasoned travelers to India, I have put together a little kit that contains Immodium, gravol, and activated charcoal. I’ll be purchasing some Tums at the airport, just I’m not entirely sure of the use of the charcoal, but it’s supposed to be good for the gut.

Stay tuned for more over the next couple of weeks about India.

cycling · family

Give the girl a bike!


Everyone loves this Susan B. Anthony quote: “I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can’t get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.”

We tend to think of the connection between bicycles and feminism as a historical thing. See my post about the anti-bike backlash of the late 1800s here:  Bicycles: Making good women go bad since the 1800s.

However, bicycles are still playing a role in improving the lives of girls and women all over the world. See, for example, Will bike riding in Saudi Arabia change the way women dress? October is bike to school day/month in many parts of the world where the choice is between biking and getting a drive from parents. But in many other parts of the world it’s the possession of a bicycle that makes getting to school possible at all.

Thanks to reader and business ethics blogger Chris MacDonald for sharing this academic paper with us, “Cycling to School: Increasing Secondary School Enrollment for Girls in India,” by Karthik Muralidharan and Nishith Prakash. (A University of California at San Diego NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH Working Paper,

What is the challenge with keeping girls in school? In rural India many, about half, of the girls drop out midway through their education. Although school is free, transport costs deter rural families from sending girls to school. Bikes make education possible for girls who would otherwise have to leave school. Charitable programs like Give a Girl a Bike aim to provide bikes and improve educational opportunities for girls in rural India.

“Bikes for girls” programs sound great. But do they work?

Yes, according to research conducted by Muralidharan and Prakash. “We find that the Cycle program was much more cost effective at increasing girls’ enrolment than comparable conditional cash transfer programs in South Asia, suggesting that the coordinated provision of bicycles to girls may have generated externalities beyond the cash value of the program, including improved safety from girls cycling to school in groups, and changes in patriarchal social norms that proscribed female mobility outside the village, which inhibited female secondary school participation.”

 Read more here:

How cycling set deprived Indian girls on a life-long journey: One simple initiative in Bihar state not only solved an everyday problem for schoolgirls, but also expanded their horizons (The Guardian)

India Free Bicycle Program Crucial To Keep Girls In School (Huffington Post)

Thanks Chris!