Being a woman in a country like Pakistan can be challenging, exciting and sometimes frustrating as well because the deep-rooted misogyny in our society makes survival for women rather difficult at times.
However, all odds were defied and taboos laid to rest as 35 women, trained in driving motorbikes, rallied the city of Sargodha. According to Al Jazeera, the rally was held under the supervision of a government supported project named Women on Wheels.
The program was attended by Swedish ambassador, Ingrid Johansson, representatives from UN Women Pakistan and local police officials.
Women on Wheels was originally initiated by Special Monitoring Unit for Law and Order of the Punjab’s Chief Minister office. This was later transformed into a motorbike training program for women by the Lahore Traffic Police. The project is supported by UN Women Pakistan as well.
The aim of the project is to establish a firm stance against street harassment and empower women on a national level. Country representative for UN Women, Mr Jamshed M Qazi said that,
No city in the world can claim to be smart and sustainable if half of its population is not safe and lives in fear of violence.
Training sessions were held for women for 15 days, hourly exercises were held and females were given the confidence to ride motorbikes with aplomb.
The organization has arranged many such rallies in the past as well. Earlier in July over 150 female motor cyclists participated in a bike rally held in Lahore.
Prominent figures including Australian Ambassador Brigita Balaha and human right activist, lawyer, Asma Jahangir also attended the rally to show their full support.
Under the Women on Wheels project, Chief Minister Punjab, Mr Shahbaz Sharif announced 1000 pink scooters for working women and students at a subsided rate.
The Punjab government is making robust efforts to promote women empowerment in the province. Apart from the Women on Wheel initiative, it has started a multitude of other programs such as developing literary modules for women and expanding career opportunities.
Not only Punjab government but private organizations are also launching such projects on a mass scale. Recently, a group of young women operating Girls at Dhaba project also launched a bicycle rally. The rally was held in Lahore and Karachi simultaneously involving a major chunk of females. The activity was organized by collaborating through social media. Many girls arrived with their own bicycles while some cycles were event lent by their male counter parts.
Females in Pakistan comprise of a large majority, 51 percent of the total population of the country is female. While they represent a major portion, it is unfortunate that they still face discrimination on many fronts. Rallies such as these serve as a morale booster for all those young women who feel unsafe in their own country.
Such efforts by the government not only enable women to shatter myths but also set new precedents for the society. Indeed such programs pave the way for creating long lasting freedom and equality for all.