Amidst the heating political scenario, there was one positive news coming from Al Hamra, Lahore on Sunday 13th May, 2018.
700 women were handed over customized pink motorcycles as part of the Women on Wheels – #WoW initiative.
As part of the Chief Minister’s Strategic Reforms Unit (SRU), Excise minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman handed over the keys of the motorcycles. The minister reiterated the CM’s desire to expand the movement to 36 districts of the heavily populated province of Punjab. Women empowerment organisations and social activists were present in the vicinity to observe the historic moment.
Women have been confined to public transport or the generally more expensive cars in Pakistan facing a lot of issues in routine. This move gives middle class women the freedom to travel privately, especially when you consider how women travelling through public means is subject to harassment at times.
UN Women Country Director Jamshed Kazi said that in a recent survey, it was discovered that 86 per cent of women who traveled in public transport were subjected to harassment.
The country would progress only when women are bold, brave and ready to break stereotypes and regressive norms.
Women on Wheels project helped women purchase motorbikes on subsidized rates and with the collaboration of the traffic police, they had also learnt how to ride them; 3,000 women from Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Sargodha and Multan have been handed over motorcycles in the first phase.Women would be able to purchase these motorcycles at PKR. 25,000.
Civil right activist Hina Jilani was also present. “I hope you will continue fighting,” She addressed the women in attendance. She said it was a wonderful initiative taken by the chief minister to ensure that women had the freedom to travel, but that he must also make sure the streets were also safe for women.
The Women on Wheels rally was joined in by many celebrities – including Meesha Shafi, who has been an important voice for women empowerment in Pakistan.
What a liberating experience! Riding with these amazing women at the #WOW #WomenOnWheels rally today! Did somebody say I fled to Canada? LOL 😂
This is Egerton Rd Lahore ✌🏼❤💥 pic.twitter.com/k8YmaBURfY
— MEESHA SHAFI (@itsmeeshashafi) May 13, 2018
Women on Wheels is a step in the right direction and a step we must applaud. However, major work remains to be done to change the mindsets that are still not ready to welcome women on the roads, as they fight for their fair place in society.
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) May 13, 2018