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Motivation & mobility: All aboard the women’s rights bus

SIALKOT: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan launched a bus transport service between Bajwat and Sialkot for females on Friday.

Awan said that the bus service was launched to help women in the area travel to and from work, as well as schools and colleges.

“The service has been greatly appreciated because lots of working women in the area can now easily commute from their homes to factories as well as high schools in neighbouring districts,” said Bajwat tehsil municipal administration (TMA) official Muhammad Mukhtar Ali.

Dozens of women praised the new move and said that the bus service would allow several women to attend high school and also achieve work training. “There is no proper girl’s high school in my village but this bus will allow me to attend a school near Sialkot and still return home every day,” said student Momina Batool.

A local bus driver said that the service was a good move. “Even though there are many women travelling on public buses, there are several others who have asked for a women’s only bus. This bus will serve women who aren’t willing to take public transport for long distances and at odd times,” said bus driver Kashif. Kashif told reporters that the new service would connect over 85 bordering villages in Bajwat. “This is a vital service for women who wish to work from villages in many of Sialkot’s industries. It will make it easier for them to commute safely and allow families to be more supportive of their daughters wanting to go to high schools in Sialkot,” said NGO worker Bushra Waqar.

Talking to reporters, Awan said that the bus service was exclusively meant for the local women, who had been suffering a great ordeal in commuting to distant areas.

“I want women to get out of their homes and work. Given the cultural constraints of women travelling far off distances, we need public transport facilities that cater specifically to women,” she said. “This bus service will allow women to travel from different villages to the main city for schooling, work, training and business,” she added.

Awan said that many as six new luxury buses, worth Rs 27million, would transport women between Bajwat and Sialkot on nominal fares. She said that bus service will definitely minimise the ordeal of Bajwat residents. “There is a special discount for students travelling on the buses and in certain cases, we will waive the fare entirely if the women are going to the city for training,” she said.

The federal information minister added that the launch of the bus service for women was a major part of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) policy regarding women empowerment. “This government is striving to protect the rights of women and to promote uplift schemes. Women being able to travel independently are an integral part of that,” she said.

Source: The Express Tribune


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