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Empowering Women Drivers in Pakistan

Driving is a liberating and empowering activity for anyone who enjoys it. Imagine cruising down the Margalla Hills of Islamabad, feeling the thrill of the road. But for many Pakistani women, this experience can be cut short by a flat tyre, a dead battery, or the fear of societal judgement.

Despite challenges like societal pressures and limited resources, Pakistani women are determined to exercise their right to drive. As per Chief Traffic Officer (CTO) Muntazir Mehdi, Lahore recorded the highest number of female drivers in Pakistan in 2022. This surge signifies the growing empowerment and independence of Pakistani women who are taking the wheel and claiming their right to mobility.

However, the increase in the number of women drivers doesn’t mean they have an easy time on the road. They still face challenges like harassment, vulnerability during breakdowns, and the misconception that car maintenance lies outside their domain. One major obstacle is the lack of basic car maintenance knowledge, leaving women susceptible in unexpected situations. This dependence not only hinders their self-reliance but also reinforces harmful stereotypes portraying them as incapable and in need of constant male support. A common scenario that illustrates this obstacle is being stranded with a flat tyre while navigating Karachi’s bustling streets during rush hour. Changing a tyre requires physical strength and can be daunting, especially for women unfamiliar with the process. In such instances, they might rely on male help, potentially exposing them to harassment or exploitation, particularly in isolated areas.

Therefore, car maintenance is a valuable skill that can empower Pakistani women drivers. By learning basic checks like tyre pressure and different fluid levels, they can prevent breakdowns, save time, and money. Additionally, knowing how to change a tyre or jump-start an engine equips them to handle emergencies efficiently and fosters self-reliance. Furthermore, it liberates them from relying on others for car maintenance and builds self-esteem and independence.

According to a 2024 report by The Nation, the Islamabad Capital City Police Officer (ICCPO), Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan, officially inaugurated Pakistan’s first women’s driving school and test centre at the Police Lines Headquarters in Islamabad. This ground-breaking initiative aims to provide specialized training to women under the guidance of experienced instructors, empowering them with essential driving and car maintenance skills. It’s a significant step towards creating a safe and supportive environment for women to learn and excel in automobile mechanics and driving. Fortunately, online platforms like YouTube are also making car maintenance knowledge accessible and empowering women. Car maintenance empowers Pakistani women to break stereotypes, take charge of their mobility, and claim their rightful place on the road. It also serves as a gateway to the male-dominated automotive industry.

These women inspire all Pakistani women who aspire to enter the automotive industry. They prove that with passion, determination, and education, women can overcome the barriers that limit their participation in the sector. But these women are not alone in their quest for change. They need the support and encouragement of other women who share their vision and ambition. Here’s what you can do to join them:

Encourage other women: Seek guidance from experienced mechanics, and share your car maintenance knowledge with friends and family. This will create a culture of learning and empowerment.

Support female-owned businesses: Patronize female-owned vehicle repair shops and businesses, increasing their opportunities and visibility.

Advocate for Change: Stand against gender discrimination and support diversity and inclusion initiatives in the automotive industry, fostering a more balanced workplace for women in the field.

Shifting gears for change is not just metaphorical; it’s a practical action Pakistani women can take to improve their lives and society. By embracing car maintenance and driving skills, they can overcome challenges, defy stereotypes, and create opportunities for a more diverse and inclusive automotive industry. Pakistani women, let’s embrace this change and drive towards a brighter future.

Source: The Nation