GUEST WROTER

HINA RIAZ

No nation can rise to the height of glory unless its women are side by side with men. Needless to say that in order to speed up the wheel of progress both men and women must be provided equal opportunities to excel in their respective fields.

In our male-dominated society, girls have to face many difficulties to pursue this basic right. One of the many reasons is the lack of personal transportation to reach educational institutions.

Many girls have to abandon their dream of getting education due to unavailability of transport especially in the backward areas. Girls are often seen waiting for hours to get a bus or van to reach their school, college and universities. And even if they do get a bus there is no respectable way to travel because of low capacity of the public transport. Our society cannot progress by restricting more than half of its population in the abyss of ignorance and a maze of undue limits. Pakistan has the third highest number of out-of-school female students in the world, 55 percent of out-of-school children in Pakistan are girls, while current female net enrolment rate at primary level is 64 percent compared with 72 percent for male counterparts. This is not to say that moving up the statistics ladder will make Pakistan a women-friendly place. The data only strengthen our resolve as activists and show us when and how urgently to begin.

Every government talked about the importance of female education but none of them ever gave full attention to it. Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shehbaz Sharif has taken a new initiative, “Women on Wheel” to facilitate female students and working women by announcing scooty motorcycles for them. For the first time in the history of Pakistan girls will be allocated scooties to provide them an independent and efficient ride.

Chief Minister Punjab has valued the safety and security of girls at first place. As per plan, the girls will be trained by the Punjab traffic police first before handing over the scooties. Punjab police will also provide security for the girls. Authorities say that no laxity would be tolerated in case of security and respect of females at any cost.

Moreover, the girls will drive this pink scooty without driving license because it will be of 50cc. These Scooties are designed for safe, easy and comfortable travelling purpose so that not a single girl gets even a scar.

Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has advised the designers and manufacturers to keep in mind the requirements and essentials to ease a female rider. It will provide a dignified and independent ride for females. The pink Scooties will be reliable and easy to drive for girls as the experts have taken serious considerations to make the Scooties convenient for females. These Scooties are powered by rechargeable batteries hence they will liberate the consumers from the tension of petrol expenses, which is very beneficial for the girls in this expensive era.

It will be time saving because Scooties are easy to move in traffic due to small diameter so the ladies will reach their destination in short period of time. Under a contract between the manufacturing departments of Pakistan and China, the Chinese company will manufacture these 50cc Scooties having the cost of PKR 80,000 per Scooty. This scheme will be launched firstly in Lahore city and then gradually the plan would be replicated in other cities of Punjab.

The Scooty scheme might be new to Pakistan but other countries have already adopted this practice. Few years back such Scooties were introduced in India which changed the destiny of many women over there. A clear progress in education and public sector was seen due to this innovation and now Pakistan is also expected to experience the same achievement.

It is said that “You educate a man, you

educate a man. You educate a woman, you educate a generation”. In the same way if you are creating opportunities for the education of a woman you are indirectly helping a complete generation to have a good living.

By introducing such scheme the girls will be motivated and encouraged to get education. Women education serves as the most powerful tool that can greatly help Pakistan to achieve its national goals while utilizing women’s power, skills, knowledge and competencies.

These voucher schemes, PEEF scholarships and laptop program have always encouraged the poor families to let both their sons and daughters cherish education.

CM Punjab Mian Shehbaz Sharif has burnt the midnight oil to empower women. He has taken a deliberate and conscious step through this Scooty Scheme for ensuring equal participation of women in mainstream development. Hopefully this Scooty Scheme will encourage more girls to step out of their homes with comfort and build a good future for themselves and their families.–Contributed.