WOW is the Word

Now women can look forward to having the same sense of empowerment and the same mobility and independence that men have.

By Dr. Taseer Salahuddin | January 2020

It was a scorching hot day. As the family car was not available, for the very first time in my life, I found myself standing on the roadside, waiting for a rickshaw or some other means of public transport, to take me to the university. The time for my class to begin was approaching and the exam I was supposed to conduct depended on my presence. Perspiration was soaking the envelope I was holding. I stood there for I don’t know how long but soon, I had an an eye-opening experience. While standing for transport and loaded with papers, laptop and other stuff, as a woman, I was scrutinized by almost every second passerby. Some were just plain curious while others had that lustful harassing look. I had never experienced this before. On reaching the university, I shared my experience with my colleagues. To my horror, all this was a norm. Rather, in the month after my public transport episode, I experienced and heard many horrifying incidences of women having to face while using public transport. That’s when I decided to purchase my own motorcycle. It has been more than a year since I have had it and I ride it to the university regularly. I feel I am blessed to be commuting so independently, efficiently and cost-effectively.

Women on motorcycles are rare everywhere in the world but definitely not unheard of. In the early 1980s, a program was initiated in the US by some women that was called Women on Wheels (WOW). The purpose of this community was to create awareness that this mode of transport was equally effective for women as it was for men. They wanted to help women realize the mobility, independence and social empowerment that this low-cost and easy-to-learn mode of transport offers. The first few members of WOW made an effort once a year to come together in order to stay in touch, find old friends and make new ones. Veterans were always supportive of young women joining the group. Today, in the USA, this fraternity has grown to the extent that they have started a bimonthly magazine in which they share their stories, joys and learning experiences. They also have product reviews and motorcycle-related information.

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The writer is a Ph.D in Economics and works as an Assistant Professor at Government Sadiq College, Women’s University, Bahawalpur. She can be reached at salahuddin.taseer@gmail.com

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