“My two sons grew up watching me ride motorbikes to work. In 2016, the company I worked for asked if we could learn to ride motorbikes. I said yes. The next thing I knew, 14 of us were being trained to ride bikes in Lingmithang. Although I was the most enthusiastic, I was almost the last person to learn to balance on a bike. It took me a long time to get a license. I got traffic fines on numerous occasions too. Still, I continued to ride and eventually became more confident. As a part of my job, I had to travel around villages in Gedu and Darla to oversee hazelnut plantations. I even took my son with me sometimes when there was no one to babysit him. The villages are often taken aback and ask me all sorts of questions. Some have never seen a woman ride a motorbike. If it wasn’t for me, they’d continue believing that women can’t ride. Some even ask if I ride just to show off. They then apologize when they learn that it’s compulsory for field workers in my company to use two-wheelers.

Although both genders are trained equally by the company, only a few women continue to use bikes for work. I still think bikes are fun and useful in getting to places. Once you learn to ride, the anxiety and fear fade. I want to be a part of groups that go on long-distance rides together. But it’s difficult to find other women who ride and it’s hard to keep up with men. The longest I’ve ridden is between Phuentsholing and Tshimasham, and once between Thimphu and my village in Wangdue. I will always be grateful to have been able to learn this. If not pushed by my company, I wouldn’t have been able to learn to ride, let alone be good at it. I’m glad my company didn’t impose a gender bias. I hope to inspire women who have been told that they can’t or shouldn’t do what men do.”

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