In 2015, Girl Up expanded SchoolCycle to Guatemala. When the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) saw the success of SchoolCycle in Malawi, they asked Girl Up to fund bicycles for girls in Guatemala, too—in the Department of Petén, a northern area of Guatemala with a high proportion of rural, indigenous peoples. Girl Up supporters raised enough money for 250 bicycles, which were distributed in February 2017.
Bicycles were provided to girls who were out-of-school but now have the opportunity to enroll in a second chance program, focusing on 30 isolated communities that do not have secondary schools. To support the girls who received new bicycles, program mentors made visits every 4-6 weeks to both girls’ homes and study centers to ensure girls were using their bicycles and advancing their studies, as well as help maintain and repair bicycles if needed.
The bicycles made a big impact for girls in Guatemala. They helped increase school reenrolled by 24% from 2016 to 2017, and 97% of bicycle recipients completed the 2017 school year and intend to continue their studies in the future. An analysis from UNFPA of the impact of the bikes showed that girls want to continue studying when they have the means of transportation to get to their study centers easily and safely.
SchoolCycle was also powerful in transforming social norms at the community level, with the visibility of groups of girls biking to school together. Adolescent girls who received a bicycle increased their mobility and autonomy, an empowerment dimension that enabled them to access basic education, health, reproductive and financial services within and outside their communities. In fact, 51% of participants substantially increased their mobility with their bicycle. This allowed girls to continue their secondary studies, strengthen their social capital, and have access to recreational activities.