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18 Pakistani Women First Training Programme for Female Bus Drivers

In a pioneering move towards gender inclusivity and economic empowerment, Pakistan is witnessing a transformative milestone with 18 women set to become the country’s first female bus drivers. Spearheaded by the Sindh Mass Transit Authority (SMTA), this groundbreaking training program in Karachi aims to reshape the landscape of the public transport sector and foster a more diverse workforce.

Kicking off on November 1, the initiative unfolded at the drivers’ training school of the Motor & Highway Police. The comprehensive program commenced with an orientation phase, where participants delved into driving fundamentals and road safety rules using a cutting-edge driving simulator. Hailing mostly from Karachi, with one participant commuting from Hyderabad, the selected women underwent rigorous training until mid-December.

The practical segment of the program unfolded at the Mehran bus depot, providing the trainees with hands-on experience in driving various buses. The diverse fleet included electric, diesel-electric hybrid, green, and pink buses imported by the Sindh government. Notably, two participants from the underprivileged area of Lyari underscore the initiative’s commitment to inclusivity.

The SMTA envisions deploying the graduates not only for the female-only Pink buses but also for the upcoming sections of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system in Karachi. This move signifies a stride towards not only gender diversity but also the integration of women into various facets of the mass transit system.

Huma Ashar, the Gender Specialist at SMTA, emphasizes the broader scope of the initiative, aiming to empower women in the mass transit system beyond gender-specific services. Once licensed to drive public service vehicles, the graduates are expected to contribute to various types of buses and the BRT service, breaking barriers in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Political leader Sharjeel Inam Memon, representing the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), lauded the initiative on social media, attributing it to the PPP’s vision for the economic empowerment of women. Memon stressed the imperative need for increased women participation in the country’s economic workforce and expressed the PPP’s unwavering commitment to continued empowerment efforts, especially for the underprivileged segments of society.

This program serves as a significant stride towards gender equality, economic empowerment, and societal progress. As these 18 women gear up to take the wheel, they symbolize not just drivers but agents of change, steering Pakistan towards a future of inclusivity and equal opportunities.

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