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Zenith Irfan doesn’t think twice about cruising through her homeland of Pakistan on her motorcycle. But is Pakistani society at large willing to grant women that kind of freedom?
Zenith Irfan inherited her passion for riding motorcycles from her father, who passed away at a young age. Her mother and older brother have consistently supported her in her endeavors to be independent and venture down her own path. Still, even they would like to see Zenith get married by the time she’s 30 and take on the role their more conservative and patriarchal society assigns to women - as a wife and mother. Riding through the urban landscape of her home city of Lahore, Zenith is respected for her yearning to be free, and she’s even a small-time celebrity. In 2018, a feature film was released in Pakistani movie theaters based on Zenith’s life story. But on social media, she frequently receives comments lambasting her modern approach to traditional gender roles.
When Zenith takes off on a journey through the rough terrain of the Himalayan Mountains, she’s set on learning more about the lives of the women residing there. But even if she is met with respect, willingness to help, and hospitality during her trip, she doesn’t really manage to speak with the women in the mountains. After all, they aren’t allowed to talk to Zenith alone in front of the camera, but only in the company of men, and only after having received the men’s consent. This experience makes Zenith Irfan’s special, privileged status clear to her. But it doesn’t shake her in her conviction to live her dream.