The groundbreaking training initiative in Karachi, led by the Sindh Mass Transit Authority (SMTA), has paved the way for 18 women to graduate as the country’s first female bus drivers. Launched on November 1, the program aims to bolster the representation of women in the public transport sector, aligning with the SMTA’s vision for a more diverse workforce.
Held at the drivers’ training school of the Motor & Highway Police, the program included an orientation phase where participants learned driving fundamentals and road safety rules using a driving simulator. The selected women, hailing mostly from Karachi, with one participant commuting from Hyderabad, underwent this training until mid-December. Subsequently, the practical part of the program took place at the Mehran bus depot, where trainees acquired hands-on experience driving various buses, including electric, diesel-electric hybrid, green, and pink buses imported by the Sindh government.
Notably, two participants hailed from the underprivileged area of Lyari, emphasizing the inclusivity of the initiative. The SMTA, through this program, envisions employing 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.
Huma Ashar, the Gender Specialist at SMTA, highlighted the broader scope of the initiative, aiming to empower women in the mass transit system beyond gender-specific services. The graduates, once licensed to drive public service vehicles, are expected to contribute to various types of buses and the BRT service.
Political leader Sharjeel Inam Memon, representing the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), applauded the initiative on social media, attributing it to the PPP’s vision for the economic empowerment of women. Memon emphasized the need for increased women participation in the country’s economic workforce and expressed the PPP’s commitment to continued empowerment efforts, particularly for the underprivileged segments of society. The program stands as a significant stride towards gender equality, economic empowerment, and societal progress.