[Dawn 29 April, 2019]

KARACHI: There was a traffic mess at Nagan Chowrangi on Sunday morning. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the 100 women in pink upper jackets, the Pink Riders, riding all kinds of motorcycles. The women riding bikes with several of them also as pillion riders were out and about announcing their independence.

It may also be seen as another step towards women’s empowerment as one will never see these women standing for hours at bus stops or trying to hail a taxi or rickshaw because they have their own conveyance. “That’s what I wanted for these women, who may be housewives, students, doctors, nurses or from any other profession. I didn’t want them to depend on anyone for transport,” founder of Pink Riders Payam-i-Khurram told Dawn.

“Women comprise 52 per cent of Pakistan’s population, and if they become independent, Pakistan will become independent.”

Rachel Javed said that not having one’s own transport can really be a hurdle for women. “Taxis and rickshaws are expensive and we were spending more than Rs300 on conveyance every day, which was burning a hole in our pockets,” she said.

“Besides using up a major chunk of our salaries on transport, when we reached our places of work late due to the unpredictability of rickshaws and taxis, there would be an annoyed boss waiting for us too,” said Sana Yaqub.

Another rider, Rukhsar Basheer, said that the situation would get even worse for those women with odd working timings. “There are women here who work as nurses or women who work in shopping malls with very odd working hours and most public transport would not even be available late at night and then we would be standing there by the roadside, risking our lives while also getting strange looks and catcalls,” she said.

“But the real issue here was lack of awareness,” said Khurram. “Women ride scooters and motorcycles all over the world so why should there be an issue here? That’s why, we organised this rally of 100 women motorcycle riders, to create awareness among people that women can also ride bikes,” he added.

“For the purpose the rally, which started at Nagan Chowrangi, includes areas such as Sohrab Goth, KDA Chowrangi, Karimabad, Sohrab Goth, NIPA Chowrangi, Hassan Square, Karsaz, etc, and not just posh areas such as Clifton or Defence. It is to show everyone living in these areas that the women here can and the women here are not going to rely on anyone but themselves to reach their respective destinations.”