International Women’s Day: “I had no choice but to be firm and fight back!” North India’s first woman autorickshaw driverhttps://indianexpress.com/photos/trending-gallery/international-womens-day-north-india-woman-autorickshaw-driver-5089762/

International Women’s Day: “I had no choice but to be firm and fight back!” North India’s first woman autorickshaw driver

International Women's Day: Today at the age of 40, Sunita Choudhary stands dressed in a white tailored suit and brown boots driving her own auto-rickshaw along the streets of South Delhi. She came to the Capital broke escaping an abusive marriage with no place to live.

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Her struggle in life started with a child marriage in her early teens in 1991, wherein her in-laws harassed and physically abused her with dowry claims. She was beaten and had to run away to save her life just a year after when they took her away from home to kill her. Read the story about the struggles of North India's first woman autorickshaw driver Sunita Choudhary and how she fought all odds to be where she is today. On this International Women's Day we celebrate her achievements and will to fight.

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Today at the age of 40, she stands dressed in a white tailored suit and brown boots driving her own auto-rickshaw along the streets of South Delhi.

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She came to the Capital broke escaping an abusive marriage with no place to live. Today, she has come a long way from washing dishes for a living for merely Rs 200 per month to becoming the first woman to break into a male-dominated profession.

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However, things were not easy for Choudhary. She started driving in 2004, and had to overcome bureaucratic troubles to attain a commercial autorickshaw driver's licence.

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She recalls facing resistance from other male drivers, who would often puncture her vehicle tires.

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She remembers the days when she had to sleep in her autorickshaw, with no place to call home. She used to change her clothes in public toilets at the railway station and other areas.

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However, she did not let these hardships stop her from achieving her goals.

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Soon, she picked up gears and was among the first 10 women drivers to be trained by the Institute of Driving Training and Research. Choudhary had also contested for the election of the vice-president of India.

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Today, she earns around Rs 500 per day and lives in her house in Malviya Nagar locality of South Delhi. She drives daily- often giving women and elderly subsidised rates. She has not only overcome the hardships of child-marriage and physical abuse but also pushed aside her professional struggle to be where she is today.   

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As she reflects on the difficulties of her past, she says, "I had no choice but to be firm and fight back."