Given the unsafe condition of our public transport system, women in both urban and rural areas should be encouraged to adopt other means of travelling, preferably by their own private vehicles. They must increasingly learn how to drive cars and ride motorcycles in order to become more independent. This will allow them to travel comfortably, seek employment, and contribute to the household income as well as the national economy.
Although there has been an increase in women riding motorcycles and bicycles, this is only limited to a few urban cities like Karachi and Lahore. Women in rural areas are still suppressed by their families. They are regularly discouraged from working and travelling on their own because it is considered immoral. Riding a motorcycle or driving a car is off-limits for many women and those who muster the courage to do so are harassed and gawked at. They are also subjected to sexist remarks such as women are bad drivers and cause havoc on the streets. Driving is a life skill that people should be taught irrespective of their gender, and families should extend their support and encouragement. Women should be offered proper guidance and assistance. Just like men, women should be included in different activities intrinsic to society. In India and the Philippines, motorcycles are specifically designed for women, which is something that Pakistani motorcycle manufacturers should also consider.
People must stop harassing and photographing women who are riding motorcycles or driving cars by themselves. In addition, if people witness such instances of harassment, they should report it to the authorities and help them out.
Syed Irfan Haider
Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2021.