ನಾವು ಬರಿ ಕಾರ್ಮಿಕರಲ್ಲ,
‘We aren’t just labourers,
We are citizens’
These are inspiring words by Rukmini, President, Garment Labourers Union. Rukmini is one of lakhs of women workers in the textile manufacturing district of Bengaluru, whose struggle to commute has largely been ignored. When we talk about mobility issues in Indian cities pertaining to the growing number of private vehicles, the discourse is usually about the disproportionate pollution being caused by the cars and bikes. But this situation is also, about equity. Every car on the street is also disproportionately occupying space that belongs to the community as a whole. The increasing number of cars, and car-centric infrastructure, is shrinking the rightful space of other, more democratic, equitable means of transport like buses, cycles and footpaths that belong to all citizens.
Now these garment factory labourer women want to reclaim their space…
and it’s our responsibility to help them with it!
Through Power the Pedal, these women are demanding what is rightfully theirs – access to safe, empowering and accessible transport. These funds will be utilised to provide bicycles for low-income women labourers. Through a phased manner, we hope to raise enough funds for 5000 bicycles. ‘Women are going to feel confident that they are not dependent on others and can do their own work’ says Saroja, Member, Garment Labour Union.
Bengaluru’s thriving textile manufacturing industry has close to 1200 factories that employ 4.5 lakh employees. Women form the backbone of this workforce, and are paid a minimum wage of Rs 8000/month, 25% below the urban poverty line of Rs 10,800/month prescribed by the Rangarajan Committee report. They walk long distances to get to their workplaces or have to instead spend Rs 600-800(10% of their wages) on ‘transportation facilities’ provided by the factories, only to be herded in groups in unsafe tempo trucks.
Through DetoxCity, Greenpeace India’ campaign for sustainable urban mobility, we and our supporters are aiming to build an active, robust and sizable cyclist community in Indian cities, paving way for a stronger demand for equitable (and not car-centric) mobility infrastructure that is accessible to all.
EVERY CHANGE MATTERS.