The recent molestation case of Bangalore and Hyderabad has once again raised the question on the safety of Women in India. Women feel unsafe among their own people. Whatever be the time of the day, they found themselves insecure especially while travelling in private taxis and auto-rickshaws.
In order to support women in this particular case, many organizations have come up to provide taxi services “for the women by the women”. Initiated by a non-profit, “Azad Foundation”, women now are crossing the so called borders of their house and social barriers and taking part to become taxi drivers.
Though the path of being a taxi driver has been a tough row to hoe for women but the results of past few years have shown an incredible rise in the female driver population. It has been a commendable move towards the safety of women and also towards women empowerment.
Encouraged by the government, Azad foundation has now many branches in several part of India. Not only this, ‘Shetaxi’, ‘Ola Pink Cabs’ and Uber have also partnered with many women cab drivers round the country to provide safe and reliable drive.
“Women feel safe when I ferry them from airport to residence or from one part of the city to another,” said Samina Bhokiya (29), who recently joined Uber and earns upto Rs 3,000 per day. The Uber women drivers have been trained on etiquette, behaviourial skills and asked to greet customers with smile. “We also wish customers a happy journey after they alight at the airport and ensure they get a proper bill,” she stated. Other aggregators like Ola Cabs have also given a thumbs up for recruiting women drivers.
Shetaxi on the other hand is a 24×7 taxi service providing safeguard to the safety of women in Kerala. The objective of this cab services is to transform the transportation systems in the state by introducing standardization of services.
This profession also met with criticism and risks for women. There are social and cultural barriers to women going into the streets alone or working at odd hours However, the female drivers are trained and various steps are taken by these organizations to prevent the safety of these mobilize women drivers. “Most training courses include lessons in self-defence. There’s also a helpline for all the drivers who can decide when and where they want to work”, according to Uber spokesperson Deval Delivala says. Uber also allows the drivers to view passengers’ ratings and refuse anyone they feel uncomfortable about.
This profession has given encouragement to those women who due to lack of education are left with no choice but to be a house maid. “Given my lack of education, I could only have cooked or cleaned houses,” says Begum, now an Uber driver. “But now every client gives me respect. I feel proud of being a driver.”
Being women salute such initiatives and encourage women to actively participate in such services and raise the level of their employment. We just want to say it to all the women to become your own self support system. You are no less than any man in this entire world. Be brave and be yourself.