I think the bicycle has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world.”
— American suffragette Susan B. Anthony in 1896 —
In 2008, I made and published the book Girls, Muslims & Motorcycles, together with writer, travel companion and then-lover, Gaea Schoeters. In text and photos, the book tells of numerous encounters and adventures during our overland motorbike journey through nine Muslim countries in Eurasia. There the seed was planted for my global storytelling project about pioneering women and girls blazing trails with their vehicles:
— Stories, ventures, and a love for stubborn nuts
Women face obstacles moving in public spaces, be it prejudices, traditions, prohibitive laws, violence. All over the world, courageous, creative women have found ways to overcome these obstacles. Using specific vehicles, they challenge gender stereotypes, gain independence, self-confidence and strength. Each one of them changes her society from within, and becomes a role model inspiring others to follow suit.
In the West, the pioneering work was often done in the past. Women truckers no longer raise eyebrows, nor do woman motorbikers and pilots. Some pioneers (still alive) were born in the 1920’s and 30’s. Dispatch riders of WWII for instance. Yet female crane operators or sea captains are still a very uncommon sight. Outside of the West, it is still happening now : Iranian truck drivers, skateboarding girls in Cambodia, a pilot in Pakistan, 4×4-riding bedouins in Oman, cycling girls in rural India, train drivers in Saudi Arabia, taxi scooter riders in Bangladesh and Tanzania.
Move she does is delving into a large array of ages, cultures, classes, backgrounds and vehicles, and will take a number of years to develop to its full range and potential.
Through this collection and storytelling, I aim to unearth a part of untold herstory, showcase the courage, power and ongoing struggles of these often unsung sheroes, to inspire next generations, and to create more understanding, sisterhood and equity.
In 2022, I have been able to meet seven mind-blowing women, girls and groups in Iran, five in England, five in Belgium and Germany. For 2023 Japan and India / Pakistan / Bangladesh are on the planning, all the while continuing to work in Belgium and neighbouring countries. In 2024 I aim to travel around in Central-Africa. After that, it is still to be determined, and depends on the development of the project as a whole.
The project consists of portraits, interviews, context, audiorecordings and short videos of these trailblazers.
All along, stories will be spread through articles, talks in schools, a dedicated website, maybe a podcast. After having collected a good number of stories, the project is to become a book, in about 5 years.
Another roll out of this project and a very valuable one, is the distribution of the Move she does-stories in the countries where I find them : in local media, in schools, in villages, together with and by local women.
Trui Hanoulle is a freelance photographer, storyteller, graphic designer, writer, arts teacher, motorbiker, long-distance traveller, queer and coffeeholic.
Move she does is her own initiative and creation, financed independently of any media or other agenda.
The very first portraits I made for the project, of Elke Maria Löhnerz, 78 years old (°1944). Biker up to this day, rally car racer, sailor, epee fighter, teacher / Germany
Some of the archive material of Elke Maria Löhnerz