In conservative Punjab, in Pakistan, urban women are often harassed, groped and worse when walking or riding public transport.
If they can’t afford their own cars, they either put up with harassment or are at the whim of male family members.
But since 2016 the government-led Women on Wheels program made hundreds of subsidized motorcycles available to Pakistani women, providing them with both skills and safety training, and a new means of two-wheeled mobility.
At a “pink motorcycle rally” in 2018, women said that the motorcycle program gave them a new sense of independence.
Despite its popularity, Women on Wheels was discontinued by a new regional government in the deeply conservative Punjab, which considered the program wasteful and a poor use of resources.
Yet the former government program director hopes to relaunch Women on Wheels as a privately managed program.
Salman Sufi, the former government officer who first launched the program, hopes that the relaunch of Women on Wheels will end up training 25,000 women motorcyclists.
Women on Wheels is set to relaunch in the Punjab city of Lahore on November 25.