Empowering women by enabling them to earn a livelihood
The Pink Rickshaw Initiative is a project envisioned and implemented in Lahore, Pakistan, by The Environment Protection Fund. It has two goals: to enable women to become economically independent and to provide a safe public transport option to the women of Lahore.
Women without any livelihoods are trained to become rickshaw drivers and leased a pink rickshaw to work with during two years. During those two years, they are expected to contribute back to the scheme with an affordable part of their salary so that other women can join the project and become rickshaw drivers too. At the end of the two years, the women become owners of their pink rickshaw.
According to Stop Street Harassment, 92% of women surveyed in Islamabad said they would like to have access to women-only public transport, and a report published by the ILO Country Office for Pakistan in 2011 showed that the lack of safe transport for women in Pakistan “has exacerbated socioeconomic exclusion.” The Pink Rickshaw Initiative is also trying to address this issue by offering a women-only public transport service.
Noreen, one of the beneficiaries, said ‘I am very excited and happy when I drive it. I will fulfil all my dreams, I will also encourage other women to be courageous and come forward like I have and take advantage of this scheme. Women who stay at home and worry about their livelihood – they should come forward.’
Noordin, another beneficiary, said ‘my brother and nephews are all very happy for me. They now admit a woman can be successful and liberated. The male family members now want all the girls to get rickshaws – the attitudes have changed.’ Noordin and Noreen are living proof that helping women earn a livelihood has a huge impact not only on the direct beneficiaries of a project, but also on their families and their communities, as it challenges gender roles and helps bring down stereotypes.
The Circle is looking to raise £55,000 to get another thirteen women into the programme and help them become economically independent. We have already raised £20,000 and are working hard to secure the remaining funding.
Could you contribute to the project or join forces with others to raise the funds to empower these women?
It costs just £5 to give one woman a 2hr rickshaw driving lesson, £62 to train her in the mechanical skills she’ll need to maintain her rickshaw, £295 to support her through her training to ensure she is prepared to be an independent rickshaw driver and £4,230 would cover all the costs to get one women trained, supported and owning her own rickshaw through the period of the project.