‘Women on wheels’

Pakistani women leading push against gender norms by taking to the streets on pink motorcycles

In this picture taken on May 13, 2018, Pakistani women celebrate as they ride pink motorcycles during the pink motorcycles rally in Lahore. - Punjab government launched a Pink Motorcycle Scheme with the aim to empower women in society. (ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)

Women took to the streets on pink motorcycles in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday as part of a growing movement that seeks to empower women in the conservative country to enter the workforce by giving them the ability to transport themselves. The Pink Motorcycle Rally came as the Punjab government continues a “Women on Wheels” initiative that has provided motorcycles and lessons in how to drive them to thousands of women across the region over the past two years.

“The aim is to basically empower women for their mobility because economic independence and economic empowerment depends on mobility,” Salman Sufi, director general of the Punjab strategic reforms unit, said. “So we are giving 3,000 bikes, we have trained over 3,500 girls in all of Punjab and this is going to go on until we reach a target of around 10,000 plus.”

At Sunday’s rally, women said that it was normal to see women on motorcycles, but not actually driving them. Being beholden to men for transportation, they added, was a literal roadblock to improving the status of women in the country.

“We’re becoming … independent,” said biker Nageena Waseem. “Otherwise we were dependent on another person.”

According to recent studies, an estimated 75 percent of Pakistani women do not work — in large part because they lack any form of transportation.

Watch AFP’s coverage of the Pink Motorcycle Rally below.

Read the full story at Gulf News.

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