November 20, 2020
Let see … Women on Wheels
What next ????
While the world is mired in Covid, Conflicts, Disease, Poverty, Economic Crunch … for some people, life goes on in helping other HUMAN BEINGS – regardless of class or status.
Last March I learnt of Salman Sufi (https://www.vitalvoices.org/people/salman-sufi/) & the Salman Sufi Foundation’s (https://salmansufifoundation.org/) initiative of “Women on Wheels” – empowering women to become mobile on bikes. What a fabulous venture. While most of us “talk” about women empowerment, people like Salman Sufi actually “implement” it … he’s making Pakistani women MOBILE.
As the World Bank’s Pakistan Country Director, Ilango Patchamuthu, puts it “60% of women in #Pakistan cite transportation cost as a major issue which hinders their #mobility. To bring real change, we have to step out of policymaking & address the basics.” Well, Salman Sufi Foundation is doing just that … addressing the basics!
Then you come to another public facilitation project … the SaafBath project (SaafBath@salmansufifoundation.org), ‘a public toilets initiative’. Dawn & Pakistan Today’s articles spell it out – https://www.dawn.com/news/1591201 & https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2020/11/19/saaf-bath-aims-to-boost-privy-parity-in-karachi/.
Cyril Almeida comments “According to the international charity WaterAid, about 40 percent of Pakistan’s population of roughly 210 million lacks decent toilets.“
I first came across this concept of a “public toilet” in Mumbai – that too, smack adjacent to Mumbai’s iconic “Gateway of India”. What struck me was the concept of a public toilet – and I thought it was fantastic. We even went in – it was relatively clean (quite smelly) but the fact that such a facility was available to the passerbys near Colaba was awesome.
This public toilets project is long overdue … and should not have been initiated by a private citizen or NGO – but like the rest of the [lack of] public & services infrastructure in Pakistan, it’s the private citizen who comes forward to implement what should be government-led projects.
I don’t see any government in Pakistan ever looking after the social needs of the people on a micro level – it will always be private NGOs and citizens who not only take the initiative but implement public health, education, philanthropic & other social services projects – whether the Edhis, the Salman Sufis, Agha Khans, TCFs, UNICEFs, ABSAs or the I Am Karachis of Pakistan (to name just a few of the myriad of NGOs doing so much good in Pakistan).
A humble thanks to Salman Sufi for helping to ease life for the citizens of Karachi!