Perveen in terms of empowering women vital for growth

LAHORE: A hundred women rode two-wheelers at once on The Mall. At the head of the rally were bicycles, followed by motorbikes and behind them were their supporters.

The rally which started from the Governor’s House ended at the Punjab Assembly. The Cyclothon was organized by the Standing Committee for Gender Mainstreaming of the Government of Punjab, Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE), Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO), Maqam International and SHE stands for WORK in collaboration with the Women Peace Council (WPC) to promote environmentally friendly transport and transportation for girls/women in Pakistan.

Chief Patron Perveen Sarwar and Standing Committee Chair Uzma Kardar joined the event as chief guests. The cyclothon brought together women from civil society, media, academia, Girl Guides Association, Boy Scouts, transgender and people with special needs.

The cyclists all appeared to be college girls who had taken to two-wheeling with confidence. There were 50 bikes and 25-30 motorcycles/scooties. The organizers hoped that this would encourage women to work and that more women would participate in the economic life of the country. Two-wheelers are affordable and easy. The idea is that more women become mobile because mobility is synonymous with independence.

The organizers aim to tackle social and cultural norms that discourage girls from using easy and cheap transport like scooters and bicycles, which is why they organized the Cyclothon with the slogan “Safe on Wheels” on Sunday.

Parents of riders had come to support them. One woman said the government should give women scooters on easy installments and also train them because most girls don’t even know how to ride a bike.

Previously, the government had offered rental cycles at Rs700 for which prior reservation was required. Addressing the participants and speaking to the media, Begum Perveen Sarwar, wife of the Governor of Punjab, said the protection and empowerment of women was vital for the development of any society. It is the responsibility of every segment of the population to ensure the safety of women as well as to offer them maximum opportunities for progress and development, she added.

She said the aim of the Women Peace Council Punjab is to ensure the protection of women in the province as well as to eradicate gender crimes against women and punish those responsible in accordance with the Constitution.

Mara R. Wilmoth