Zenith Irfan – One Girl Two Wheels
Ever since they are tiny kids, girls are given dolls and pink toys to play with, and model cars and bikes are handed over to the boys. Thus, in almost every part of the world, gender stereotyping starts at a very early age. However, there are some very brave individuals who manage to defy all these stereotypes. They choose not only their toys, but also their path in life, and nobody can mess with them. While many parents force their child to follow a certain path, many parents are also extremely supportive of their children’s dreams. Even though motorcycles had always ignited her soul, Zenith Irfan did not start riding a bike until her mother told her about her late father’s dream of riding across the world. She was only 12 years old at that time.
Zenith grew up in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She, along with her family, shifted back to Pakistan in 2007. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Marketing and Finance from Lahore School of Economics (LSE).
Zenith’s mother was her primary driving force. She was the one who instilled the idea in Zenith’s mind to live her father’s dream, and not only follow his legacy but also take it a step further.
‘My brother bought his first Honda CD-70 and that’s when I started learning the basics.’
Pakistani society is all about stereotypes, and a girl riding a bike in the streets would be enough to start a mountain-load of gossip. However, Zenith was never one to be misled by what people had to say. She was always focused on making her father’s unrealized dream a reality, and was really excited about where her motorcycle adventure would take her. Society and people’s rude comments were never really able to obstruct Zenith from what she had envisioned.
‘Society never obstructed me from what I had envisioned and I believe it shouldn’t stop other women from pursuing their dreams either.’
Zenith has been really encouraged by the changes in Pakistani culture that are subtle, but are surely there. She believes that Pakistan has a long way to go ahead, even though with the “Women on Wheels” campaign, Pakistan has already embarked on its journey to success. Despite the fact that we live in a traditional patriarchal society, people are now starting to understand that women empowerment is imperative for the progress of any country. Education is the key to encourage motor sport.
‘We need to promote the advantages and safety of adopting a motorcycle as a travel buddy. Social media plays a pivotal role in shaping the structure of our mindsets and with time, I hope to see more women riders on the road and the mountains of Karakoram.’
The fact that many outsiders think that all Pakistani women are terribly oppressed souls and are kept caged by their men, is extremely depressing for Zenith. However, she is glad to notice that her Facebook blog helped to change a lot of perceptions.
‘When I launched my Facebook blog, “Zenith Irfan: 1 Girl 2 Wheels”, people from all across the world, especially India & Europe, were messaging me on how I have changed their views about Pakistan. Initially, they thought that Pakistani women are caged in their homes and are prohibited from achieving their dreams. However, with my blog, their perspectives changed and many of them felt comfortable to tour in Pakistan soon. ‘
The excitement of adventure has made Zenith into an unstoppable force. She has loads of future plans, and most of them involve a lot of riding!
Zenith believes that in order to achieve something, it is essential that you yourself are completely comfortable with it, however crazy or stupid it may sound to another person. Having faith in oneself is the secret recipe to achieving almost anything in this world.
‘Find your happy place, no matter how crazy it is, no matter how someone disowns you. Laugh and learn to live. Don’t think about what the society will say. They’ll always call you a crazy breed. All you have to do is prove them how happy you are in your craziness.’
Interview by Mohsin Jilani | Written by Fatima Arif