Across the country, many women, particularly those who do not have men in their families, experience mobility challenges that limit their exposure to education and employment. This has disadvantaged many women and widened the gender gap. Women in rural and remote areas face multiplied challenges as public transport remains a luxury available only in a handful of urban cities. But women in urban areas are also struggling to cope with the high travel expenditures amid rising inflation. Consequently, in recent years, many women have turned to motorcycles as they are a cheaper mode of transportation. In Karachi, Pink Riders, a bike riding institute for females, is already training up to 500 women to ride bikes.
Women riding motorcycles is a fairly new sight in most cities, and often new female riders feel insecure and vulnerable. The rising incidents of harassment and abuse against women in public spaces have done little to calm their fears, which is also why families remain unreceptive to the idea. However, changing social dynamics and responsibilities require women to be equipped with essential skills such as riding bikes to reduce their reliance on others. This would ultimately also help the men in their families.
While organisations such as Pink Riders are working on training women and taking care of their licence fees and accidental insurance, the government should step in to make roads safer for women. Traffic police and other law enforcement agencies can play a critical role in monitoring roads and taking complaints of female riders and drivers about harassment seriously. They should be sensitised during training to fulfil their duties effectively. Improving women’s mobility can go a long way in empowering women as it can enhance their access to education and jobs. Organisations working to improve women’s mobility must receive government support to continue their work and extend their services across the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2023.