KARACHI: One of the biggest retaliations towards women’s liberation movements is that women in Pakistan are not equal participants in most blue-collared jobs that men are. Most ‘registered’ working women are often only seen as the ones who work inside an office, acquiring a skilled job after receiving education for it. The register, however, excludes women working in homes as cleaners. Recently, McDonald’s Pakistan launched an initiative where the food giant will be hiring female delivery riders.
The initiative has been launched in three of the principal cities of Pakistan. As Covid-19 pushes back customers from dining in, more food joints have been relying on delivery services to thrive.
While McDonald’s hiring female riders for delivery might be a strong factor behind normalizing female riders on the road in general, one cannot turn a blind eye to the street harassment that already exists in Pakistan. The very street harassment has restricted women’s mobility till 2021. Incidents of eve-teasing, groping, masturbating have contributed to the statistics of street harassment in Pakistan.
In a country where we are quick to associate a woman’s failure with her gender, and quickly generalize, one cannot help but be afraid of this generalization in this particular case as well. Will people allow women to make mistakes? Or will it be just another “Oh, it is a woman, what else could you expect?” with a series of stereotypes attaching to these women even more? The initiative, however, ensures more registered working women in the labor force of Pakistan.
An example of the aforementioned generalization can be seen in the comments, and a general attitude most male drivers harbor towards their female counterparts. The wariness and caution is common practice when a male driver finds themselves around a female driver on the road. However, according to an article published by NY Times on April 24, 2020, women are better and safer drivers behind the wheel. “Compared with women, male drivers of cars and vans were involved in twice as many fatal accidents. Women tend to be better drivers than men — much better, judging by the number of deaths they cause on the road.”
We have yet to see how women in Pakistan perform on a motorbike. All the societal pressure could result in anxiety amongst these riders. However, what will unfold more dramatically is the society’s attitudes towards these women, who merely stepped out to earn a livelihood for themselves.