At the break of dawn on Sunday at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, four smiling women clad in orange cycling apparel stood by their two red tandem bikes, glowing with enthusiasm for an adventure that would span for the next 400 days.
Ride 4 Women’s Rights (R4WR) is a Netherlands-based women’s rights foundation founded and run by four University of Amsterdam graduates: Sophie van Hoof, Monique van der Veeken, Carlijn Bettink and Lidewij Ponjee.
With no pre-conceived judgments on women’s rights issues in the countries they will visit, the four women are embarking on an ambitious cycling journey from Jakarta to the Netherlands in 400 days with their tandem bikes — all in the name of equality for women.
Bettink stated that part of the group’s inspiration to focus on women’s rights worldwide stemmed from the reality that not every woman in the world enjoyed the rights they had in their home country.
Their long journey will bring them through 22 countries, spanning Southeast Asia, South Asia and Eastern Europe, in their efforts to explore the state of women’s rights with each visit.
In these countries, the four will participate in local projects run by non-profit organizations Plan International and Care International, as well as hold low-key projects and events of their own. In Nepal, for instance, they plan to organize a girls-cycling tour as well as visit schools to chat to students and community members, taking in stories and the perspectives of the local residents.
Their journey will be documented weekly on their website, blog, YouTube channel and their Facebook page, which is mostly written in Dutch. English posts will also be uploaded to their sites.
“Our main goal is to raise global awareness of women’s rights and also for people to reflect about their rights as well. We had the opportunity and freedom to get an education and make our own life choices back home. We want that kind of life for every girl across the globe as well,” she explained.