A few months ago, a news report stated that the government has instructed private cab companies Uber and Ola, to train more women drivers, and to launch more training institutes in smaller towns. The goal is to have these firms train 100,000 drivers a year, with a majority of them being women. The government said that it will develop a curriculum for these institutes to follow, and make it easier for drivers to obtain commercial licenses. In this regard, there is also a proposal to amend the Motor Vehicles Act to reduce the time period for securing a commercial driving license from a year (after receiving learner’s license) to three months.
Close on this news, just yesterday, a report stated that more women are increasingly getting into commercial driving for Uber and Ola, and what attracts them most is lucrative pay packages and flexible timings. Some are earning between ₹50,000 and ₹1 lakh a month. It is not just women from lower economic strata, but also those with professional qualifications who opt for commercial driving, to supplement their income. The women reveal that passengers seem to be taking a while to adapt to this change. While some hang up thinking it’s a wrong number, others ask when the women will be sending the taxi. There are also the preconceived notions of women being bad drivers. However, what the women report is that female passengers are often very comfortable on encountering a female driver.
The advantages of training women to be commercial drivers are multifold. On one hand, female passengers will feel safer about venturing out alone, creating a feeling of independence, and more women will step out of their houses. On the other hand, training women to be drivers is by itself empowering, and provides an excellent career option to many women.
As crimes against women by cab drivers increase, this move becomes extremely pertinent. We highly support this move, but do hope that these female drivers are given adequate training, and support systems, and don’t face the same fate as Bharathi Veerath, one of the pioneering females in commercial cab driving in India. Being a female in our country is not easy, and being a female driver is the butt of many chauvinistic jokes. Thus in this regard, we at CSR are highly appreciative of the fact that both the government as well as private cab companies are working in tandem towards empowering women as passengers, and as drivers.
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