Pakistan gets its first Pink Rickshaw for women, driven by women
Zar Aslam, President of The Environment Protection Fund (TEPF) is keen to put more women in the driving scene, but why?
No doubt to empower women and initiate change in the role and visibility middle-to-lower working class women play in Pakistan. Alongside being an opportunity to generate income, rickshaws driven by women will prove to be a safe transportation mode.
The baby step transcends cultural barriers for women, which prevents them from embarking on a male-dominated bastion. Pink Rickshaw, Putting Women in the Driving Seat initiative will create role models for other women in their search of independence. Moreover, the initiative creates new avenues in regards to how women are perceived in the public space in Pakistan.
For the most part, women in Pakistan depend on a close male relative to get to work, school, hospital runs and errands. Public transport on many routes remains inaccessible or unavailable. Those waiting for rickshaws and buses could face harassment. Pink Rickshaw, Putting Women in the Driving Seat offers dual benefit to middle and lower-middle class women who can become financially independent and pave the way for safe rides for other women.
Women as service providers (drivers) is a road not taken in Pakistan’s transportation industry. There is a single female taxi driver in the country, Zahida Kazmi. Women let a number of opportunities slip because of lack of public transport. The Pink Rickshaw will fill gaps that need to be plugged son women between the ages of 18-45 can reach their full potential outside the home. Zar Aslam hopes that over time, the initiative will become more acceptable, and women driving rickshaws and scooters will become a reality.
The first Pink Rickshaw is fully sponsored by Indian American Kalpana Trivadi, fondly known as Kalps. The first rickshaw for women passengers and drivers services those in Lahore. The fully covered rickshaw is fitted with fans, doors, large rear view mirrors, and headlights. Staying true to its theme, the rickshaw is painted it pink and white. She’s set herself a funding goal of $110,000, and hopes to have at least 25 such rickshaws on the road by 2015 end. Pink rickshaws have been introduced in various Indian cities intent on enhancing road safety for women.