Young female students in Pakistan are learning to ride mopeds to give them more independence and help them get to their place of education, as part of an Aberystwyth University transport project.
Data shows many women in Pakistan give up their studies because of the sexual harassment and abuse they face when using public transport.
The aim of the project is to give female students aged 18-25 years an alternative to public transport by loaning them a moped for the duration of their university course as well as providing training and support.
Dr Shala Tabassum, Head of the Department of Gender Studies at Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi, said: “Public transport in Pakistan is predominantly made for and used by men. Young women are often harassed and humiliated when they take the bus or train, and many decide not to continue with their education so they can avoid commuting problems like this. This project aims to dispel stereotypes and remove some of the cultural restrictions placed on young women’s mobility from home to university and back.”
Four mopeds have been bought as part of the ‘Increasing Mobility of Young Girls by Giving Scooties’ project and a group of female students have already been given training.
Student Noor said: "I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be selected among numerous students and to receive a ‘scooty’. Public transport often presents various challenges and lacks comfort, not to mention the time it consumes. Now, I can travel independently, free from any hassle or inconvenience, and truly embrace the freedom it offers."
Student Iqra said: "I am thrilled to receive this scooty which will not only grant me the freedom to explore and navigate the world with ease but also provide a symbol of independence and empowerment. As I ride into the future on my new scooty, I am determined to continue pushing boundaries, chasing dreams, and making a positive impact in my community."
The ‘Scooties’ project is one of four community transport initiatives to receive funding through the Transport and Health Integrated research Network (THINK), led by Professor Charles Musselwhite from Aberystwyth University’s Department of Psychology and Centre for Transport and Mobility (CeTraM), and Dr Sarah Jones, Consultant in Environmental Public Health, Public Health Wales.
Professor Musselwhite said: “As a network we were able to offer small amounts of funding to pilot projects addressing the role of transport in creating a healthy community. We are delighted that in addition to the mopeds’ mobility project in Pakistan, we have also been able to provide small funding pots to three collaborative projects in Wales.
“This seed funding should provide a stepping stone to further research, in order to deepen understanding of the transport issue in question and begin to create strategies or interventions to mitigate or reduce its negative impact.”