ANU RANI, a 28-year-old woman from Hoshiarpur, started working as a domestic help after her husband divorced her. Today, she is driving an e-rickshaw on the streets of Hoshiarpur, and makes enough to take care of her children.
Anu is one of 38 needy women who have benefited from an initiative by Punjab Industries Minister Sunder Sham Arora and the District Bureau of Employment, Hoshiarpur. Arora’s decision to spend CSR funds worth Rs 50 lakh on this project has changed their lives overnight. “We trained them in driving and then these women were issued driving licenses. Now, they are earning anything between Rs 600 to 800 everyday.”
Anu’s new job has also given her a lot of freedom, and she gets to spend more time with her children, something she was unable to do while working as a domestic help. “They have given me wings. I can look after my children, leave for work whenever I want.”
Moreover, she believes that she has also managed to stand her ground in the autorickshaw transport domain, which has mostly male drivers. “I see many people turn around and look when I am out on the roads in my e-rickshaw.” Asked about how passengers respond, she said, “I see many women making their way towards my e-rickshaw. They trust my driving skills and feel safe.”
The project has caught the eye of many in Hoshiarpur, his Assembly segment, said Arora. “It is the talk of the town. I have got 16,000 likes on my Facebook post about these women and there are 1.70 lakh views,” he added.
“We got applications from over 50 women. We trained them for three months and gave them driving lessons. Out of those, 38 passed the driving test. These women were handed over e-rickshaws last Saturday by Hoshiarpur DC Apneet Riyait and me,” he said.
Arora said he had thought of the idea after a number of women would approach him during his weekend public meetings in his constituency. “They would ask him for help as they had no means of livelihood. Being a father of four daughters, I wanted to help them with work but I did not know how. Then the idea struck me.”
The administration has opened up charging centres in different parts of the city. A women police officer, SP Manjeet Kaur, has also been assigned to these women. If they face any problems, they can contact her, while they are also monitored through a GPS monitoring system for their safety.
Amandeep Kaur, who recently got married, is driving around in her e-rickshaw wearing ‘choora’ (traditional bangles worn by brides and newlyweds. “I feel like I am flying,” she said.
Raj Bala is a jhuggi dweller in Balbir Colony, having five children working as rag-pickers after her husband passed away eight years ago, she is busy erecting a separate jhuggi for the e-rickshaw. “It started raining. I do not want it to get spoilt,” she said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines