On Sunday, the 'Women on Wheels' campaign kicked off in Karachi, Pakistan after a successful run in Punjab earlier.
The 'Women on Wheels' campaign is a project implemented by the Salman Sufi Foundation that aims to provide better mobility to women in Pakistan through subsidised motorbikes. It also aims at providing road safety education and training as well as networking opportunities to women drivers.
The project has already been implemented in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Sarodga and is now expanding in Karachi. while the initiative is a private undertaking, it has support from the United Nations Development Programme, UN Women, Japan, FINCA as well as the government of Japan and Careem Pakistan.
2 days to go! #Women of #Karachi here is your invitation to attend Pakistan's biggest female mobility movements launch in your city- Email us at Womenonwheelstraining@gmail.com with your name and we will confirm your seat! Few seats left so hurry:) #WomenOnWheels pic.twitter.com/wDt9OhR98R— Salman Sufi (@SalmanSufi7) November 21, 2019
According to a tweet by UN Women Pakistan, almost 10,000 women from Sindh will be taught to drive motorcycles. "Economic empowerment is dependent on mobility, and this was the cheapest way we could give women mobility," project director Salman Sufi told Gulf News in an interview in 2018. According to a report, the programme has already trained 3,500 women in Punjab to ride motorcycles and provided motorcycles at 40 percent discounted rates to increase access to mobility among women who are often dependent on the male members of the family to commute.
Officially launched in #Karachi. 10K women & girls of #Sindh will be trained to ride motorbikes n take charge of their lives through #WomenOnWheels. Proud to be partner in this initiative of @SalmanSufi7 foundation. It's time for women to have mobility and economic independence. pic.twitter.com/x39PUmIRc2— UN Women Pakistan (@unwomen_pak) November 24, 2019
All is set-WomenonWheel #BWOW Sindh Launch @SyedaShahlaRaza @SalmanSufi7 @SindhCMHouse @AseefaBZ @BakhtawarBZ @rahima_panhwer @HamidMirPAK @suhailswarraich @MazharAbbasGEO @asmashirazi @Qasimsoomro @shoro @HullioSikandar pic.twitter.com/7SnfXlCvrS— Uroosa (@Uroosakhatti) November 24, 2019
Sufi also posted a photo of the first woman trainee at the Karachi training centre. He and others shared images of the inauguration event.
And That's how its DONE! #Karachi you beauty! What an amazing turn out and HUGE registration drive as we launched #WomenOnWheels today. And we are just getting warmed up. Three more cities of #Sindh to be announced next week! Gear up Girls, your time starts Now! pic.twitter.com/VwTKw6yxUZ— Salman Sufi (@SalmanSufi7) November 24, 2019
And it begins! Here's our very first #WomenOnWheels trainee taking her first ever motorcycle training session at our camp #KarachiUniversity- #BWoW pic.twitter.com/FeWY3t7Jy5— Salman Sufi (@SalmanSufi7) November 25, 2019
Truly proud to see so many women turn up for the event launch of #WomenOnWheels by @SalmanSufi7 Foundation, to show their strength & support for the movement!Here's to creating 10,000 jobs for women to ride bikes & reclaim public spaces!#WoW #WomenPower#ChaloLetsWoW pic.twitter.com/04XvQzhaIg— Careem Pakistan (@CareemPAK) November 24, 2019
Here to attend the inauguration ceremony of #WomenOnWheels by #SalmanSufiFoundation, what a wonderful initiative for the women empowerment! ❤#ApniSawariKhudMukhtari #BWOW #UNDP #UNWOMEN #YAN pic.twitter.com/GpHtaCmJxP— Surhan Ali (@imsurhan) November 24, 2019
The campaign got a nod from Twitter with many including Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. Many pointed out that apart making cheap transport accessible to women, the campaign was also a blow to the patriarchal notions prevalent in Pakistan that often prevent women from assuming public roles as driving vehicles. The Karachi leg of the campaign evoked an enthusiastic response.
We believe in a #Pakistan where women are able to realize their full potential without stigma or persecution. I proudly welcome #WomenOnWheels launch in #Sindh today at frere Hall karachi. 7,500 women have registered themselves so far. #ApniSawariKhudmukhtari— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) November 24, 2019
My daughter begins her first motorbike ride thanks to #WomenOnWheels #WOW @SalmanSufi7 @UN_Women #KarachiUniversity pic.twitter.com/nfbyNSHOEz— Mubashir Zaidi (@Xadeejournalist) November 25, 2019
Karachi ki khawateen, are you ready for #WomenOnWheels?! pic.twitter.com/SvOjN6o2kx— Reem Khurshid (@ReemKhurshid) November 23, 2019
In a Male-Dominated Society The Women on Wheels campaign kicks off in #Karachi and it's inspiring which empowers women by improving their access to mobility provides subsidised motorbikes for women,as well as training and road safety lessons@SalmanSufi7 https://t.co/nrGT41v8Lc— Aniha Anam Chaudhary (@anihachaudhry) November 25, 2019
A survey by The Centre for Economic Research in Pakistan found that patriarchal restrictions constrain women from working professional jobs, pursuing higher education or even venture outside of their neighbourhoods.
The Women on Wheels program was first launched in Punjab in 2016 by the Punjab government when a team of 150 trained women motorcycle riders took to the streets of Lahore.