Girls/Women Scooty Drivers


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Photo credit: Nepal Live Today

From the Jan Brunson website:

In the past decade, the dramatic increase of scooters in the Kathmandu Valley has transformed young, unmarried women’s mobility. Prior to the recent explosion of scooters on the road, Nepali women (of the class that could afford a motorcycle but not a car) could be seen on the backs of motorcycles driven by husbands, brothers, boyfriends, male classmates, etc. In a location where two-wheeled vehicles are the major form of transportation, scooters transform a woman’s place from the back of a motorbike to the driver’s seat – the driver’s seat of a scooter designed specifically for her “feminine” needs. And in a social context in which most women were discouraged from leaving the house without a good reason to do so, the ability to drive oneself rather than call upon a male escort has pushed the gendered boundaries of acceptable behavior for young women outwards – metaphorically and literally. This paper analyzes young women’s newfound mobility and their capacity to drive to peripheral, relatively remote areas of the valley that offer an escape from the bustle and pollution of the city, scenic views of the valley below, and something rarely achieved in the past – privacy. I argue that scooters offer a way out of the policed realm of a young woman’s home and neighborhood, leading to exploration and a space for intimacy that previously did not exist.

From TVS:Women on bikes:

  • After riding bikes, myself, I have begun seeing more women riding bikes on the road, something I didn’t notice or give a lot of attention to before. Also, after my own first-hand experience, I believe that we should approach things with an open mind. We should explore and dare to defy our own prejudiced ideas.
  • It takes courage to take on a challenge and the joy that awaits after conquering the challenge is simply priceless but don’t choose your challenges and your rides based on just your gender. The idea of women on bikes should be just as normalized and simple as men on scooters.
  • Dear women, you can be sensitive, yet you can be brave and take on a heavy bike with charm. Give it a shot, try it out. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to ride one down a road or not, because even if you don’t, you’ll still have learnt something new.

From the Kathmandu Post:

  • Female riders say that women in motorsports are bound to make more compromises than men. Given that women hold more domestic responsibilities, especially after marriage, even after convincing their family, women tend to think twice about racing careers.

Though still rare in Nepal, some female scooty riders are also participating in ride-hailing services in recent years. In a 2022 article, the Kathmandu Post profiles 50-year-old Ratna Rai, a rare first ride-sharing female participant of her age, who joined Pathao in order to supplement her family income.

  • I have been using Pathao since the first lockdown, for about two years now.
  • Today I work about 7-8 hours a day, and I also do some export stuff in the mornings, whenever I can manage time. I have the confidence to drive people to places. And I make good money. The more time I invest, the more I get in return.
  • As women, we don’t have the luxury to work in a relaxed manner. There is no way out of the household chores. So, coming home on time is crucial.
  • Why are you doing such a lowly job, they would initially say. Many asked me to quit. No one ever suggested that I do it. And I didn’t even seek permission from anyone to get myself registered. And today, they say proudly that our daughter-in-law does Pathao.
– Ratna Rai (source: The Kathmandu Post)

Quoting the female riders, the Post writes “Female riders have to face various challenges before joining work. The lack of dignity of work in Nepal often creates barriers to them becoming riders. Society’s perception of Pathao riders hindered them from joining initially”.

The affordability of scooter prices for some affluent Nepalese females may be the reason why female drivers are frequently observed outside of Kathmandu valley in the rural small towns – driving to work, hauling kids to schools or making shopping trips to nearby markets.

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