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REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

New bus line speeds Pakistani women to education, jobs

by Zofeen T. Ebrahim, Thomson Reuters Foundation from PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN

Harassment and crime have long kept Pakistani women out of buses – and out of universities and the labor market. Now, the public bus company in the city of Peshawar has invested heavily in making their buses clean, safe, and welcoming for women. And it’s working.

148644Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Buses are seen parked at the Chamkani Station as the provincial government suspended the service during a Shiite religious procession in Peshawar on August 18, 2021. K.Pervez/PPI Images/Newscom/File

May 6, 2022

Pakistani student Mah Jabeen credits a new public bus system in her home city with saving her from being stuck at her parents’ house doing chores – or even having to get married.

Thanks to the Bus Rapid Transit system in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Ms. Jabeen said she had been able to continue her master’s degree – keeping alive her dreams of becoming a botanist.

“My parents had decided to stop my education ... because they didn’t like me traveling in the disheveled Mazda wagons,” Ms. Jabeen said, referring to the city’s privately run minibuses while sitting on a shiny BRT bus en route to college.

They relented, she said, because the new bus stop was just a few minutes from her front door and dropped her off at the university gates.

Launched in 2020, the BRT has proved hugely popular among women in the ultra-conservative city, where burqas and veils are standard female dress and 90% of women reported feeling unsafe using public transport in a 2016 survey.

Page created on 6/20/2022 11:02:40 PM

Last edited 6/20/2022 11:15:33 PM

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