The annual Women’s Car Rally of the Western India Automobile Association (WIAA) was flagged off at 7 am here on Sunday.
More than 400 women took part in the rally, which consisted of 127 cars, with women also taking up roles of race officials and marshals.
Present at the flag-off was Amruta Fadnavis, wife of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Speaking to The Indian Express, she said, “I am so happy that women are driving the change. This might be their passion or a symbol of their empowerment but we need to go beyond that. When women choose professions that are male-dominated such as driving, be it for racing or driving cabs and auto-rickshaws, the day eyeballs are not raised at them shall be the day of general, neutral society and our march is towards that.”
“The state government has given five per cent reservation for permits for woman drivers within Mumbai and Thane and I hope to see more women behind the wheel in the years to come.”
“I personally enjoy driving and would do so to work and back when I was in Nagpur,” she added.
The rally was flagged off in Worli and ended at Aamby Valley near Pune.
Participants were given physical maps and were judged based on speed, distance and time.
“There are several checkpoints along the route and we have to make sure we are on time at all of them,” explained participant Pratima Boricha (40). “We have to make sure we are not late or even early throughout the journey as that results in penalty, resulting in point deductions,” she added.
Boricha took part in the rally for the first time with her friends Anita Joshi and Sheetal Kulkarni. Kulkarni, whose job was to navigate, said, “This is the third year that I am taking part in the rally and I enjoy doing the job of a navigator. I have to make sure we are on the correct path and speed. We are not allowed to use navigation on our phones, making this a challenging task.”
Boricha said, “The rally is of course extremely competitive but all of us are united in the message we wish to send out, which is that women indeed can drive. I am really looking forward to taking part in more rallies in the future.”