Pink Shuttle – Bano Bus: the only all-female transportation service.
Kabul, Afghanistan. Project ongoing.
In Afghanistan, one of the major obstacles to women’s emancipation is the difficult and restricted mobility. The majority of women are forbidden to cycle or drive motorcycles, to take taxis or buses driven by men. They are also prevented from getting a driving license, due to the high fees, and are restricted from attending gender-mixed classes; walking along the streets exposes women to all sort of risks, including harassment. All of this greatly impedes their access to basic rights, such as the right to study and to work, and obliges them to depend on the men in their family.
Free mobility is still a dream for Afghan women, and NOVE is contributing to the realization of their dream both by offering driving courses and with the Pink Shuttle (in Dari called Banu Bus – women’s bus). This is the one and only transportation-service in Afghanistan run by women for women.
During the pilot phase (May 2019-March 2020), the project trained and hired 4 professional female drivers, the only ones in the whole of Kabul. In July 2020, the first regular minivan services began. A tutor was hired in order to provide the drivers with logistical assistance and to minimize the risks connected with innovation and female entrepreneurship.
The first customers have been high-school and university student as well as civil servants. More than 100 women used the service for at least 2.5 months (10.600 rides in total).
Due to the lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the project was suspended for almost 4 months. As soon as the service resumed, contracts were signed with new customers, four minivans were purchased and transferred to Kabul, and 10 newly-trained professional drivers received their driving license in December 2020. Due to the resurgence of Covid-19, the increase of attacks and threats against women, forced the next step to be postponed to the second half of 2021: the transformation of the Pink Shuttle project into a start-up business, run independently by Afghan women.
Instead, the social branch of the service was inaugurated. At the request of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICR) and Wheelchair Basketball Federation of Afghanistan (WBFA), from March 2021 one of the Pink Shuttle vans is dedicated to the free transport of the athletes of the basketball team in wheelchairs. Since April 2021, the service has been extended to include the school transport of a group of children attending three schools in Kabul and their mothers.
The Pink Shuttle is valuable and not only due to the pragmatic nature of tackling the issue of mobility. The powerful images of women driving a car or that of professional minivan female drivers transporting passengers around town, show that female emancipation is really possible, even in Afghanistan. This motivates other women to keep striving for it.
Sponsor: OTB Foundation, The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, USAid, Roddenberry Foundation, The Linda Norgrove Foundation, La terra di Piero Onlus, OPM della Tavola Valdese.
For more information, please contact the Project Manager.