In Ahmedabad, women drive for a new identity

Reshma A, Head of JanVikas (NGO) said, “It was initially tough to convince women’s families to join the programme as driving is seen as a ‘non-traditional profession’."

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published:December 18, 2016 6:40 am
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Twenty-five women from the city with vulnerable socio-economic backgrounds recently completed training to become “professional drivers”, in an initiative flagged by two NGOs. Five of them have found jobs this week. Even as these women complete a 6-8 month-long training programme called “Driverben — Ek Nayi Pehchaan” held jointly by Ahmedabad-based NGOs JanVikas and Aazad Foundation from April, 5 among them have already bagged driver’s licences and started working as drivers with various families in the city.

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Reshma A, Head of JanVikas (NGO) said, “It was initially tough to convince women’s families to join the programme as driving is seen as a ‘non-traditional profession’. But once we ensured the families of their safety and that they will be able to generate a healthy income, many came forward. A majority of the women participants are either separated, widowed , divorced and two hail from communities which used to earlier do manual scavenging. All women are now the sole breadwinners of their families and can support themselves economically. They have received training in grooming, first aid, legal and gender awareness and car care as well. We plan to train 100 more women in a year and help increase their income by 25 per cent and more with a commercial driver’s licence in a year’s time. We see a high preference in the city for lady drivers among families and senior citizens which augurs well for them.”

Struggling to find a stable job after losing her spouse, Rekha Kahar (27) from Odhav said that the lack of a BA degree, English and relevant computer skills proved impediments. “I used to take up sewing and make Rs 5,000-6,000 a month, but then jobs have dried up. I needed an income to raise tow school-going kids on my own and have just bagged a job that gives me Rs 9,500.”

Having been a housewife all her life, Farzana Pathan (36) who separated from her spouse two years ago, said her brothers backed her to do “something different” and become independent. She says, “I needed a job desperately to provide for my 11-year-old son and I may have just cleared a job interview today. While crossing a highway was a nightmare for me when I began, now I wish to drive long- distance routes to Vadodara-Surat-Mehsana and will work towards the dream of becoming a commercial taxi driver soon.”

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