Kiran, an intelligent and ambitious girl from District Chakwal, had to leave school after 8th grade. Her father, a mason, didn’t have enough to support the family. She lived in a Joint family structure consisting of five members
Poverty made me quit my education and work for a living
To make ends meet, Kiran was forced into agricultural labor, like every other girl from rural areas. She worked on weekends to supplement her meager income.
Under such trying times, Kiran made a decision of changing the perspective of the society. She met with some like-minded women professionals who encouraged her to get registered for the pink rickshaw initiative, which is designed to encourage young girls to take up training and employment opportunities.
The vibrant pink rickshaws are enabling those who use them to feel safer as they travel through their city, as well as less restricted in where they go and who they go with.
They are gaining more confidence, more independence and claiming a new position on the road.
The new all-female initiative, launched by Plan International Pakistan, is providing the drivers and passengers that use it with a level of safety and security that, until now, had been hard to find.
“I had full support from my family once I started driving the pink rickshaw, but my extended family stopped meeting us”, she says
I had full support from my family once I started driving the pink rickshaw
Kiran had to show a lot of tolerance to the nasty comments from people who saw her drive. It wasn’t easy for the society to accept a woman driving around on streets.
“Someone has to take the first bold step. It was a challenge for the first few months but I’ve now made my place, people respect me and appreciate the change I’ve brought”.
About the rickshaw drivers
The drivers are able to take between 10 and 12 women to their destination each day, and they already have some regular customers. They can earn up to 300 rupees ($3 USD) in a day which, although still a meager wage, is an important supplement, and a step away from being confined to their homes and wholly dependent on their families for their livelihood.
Someone has to take the first bold step. It was a challenge for the first few months but I’ve now made my place, people respect me and appreciate the change I’ve brought
This is particularly critical in Chakwal, Punjab, where women hold a much lower income status than men. They own less land and have less involvement and influence in decision-making.
However, these drivers are already making the headlines and proving popular at home, changing attitudes and perceptions towards women.