More and more women are today choosing to be professional chauffeurs, as a way of taking control of their lives. Driving everything from cars and two-wheelers to even buses and more, these women are often driven by a need to look for fresh career opportunities, besides their financial need. As a result, they are rapidly smashing gender barriers and exploring a career in the high-demand industry.
According to the latest report by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Road Transport Yearbook 2015-16, women had made up only 1.5 crore of the over 16 crore valid drivers’ licences issued in India, as of March 31, 2016. Out of these 1.5 crore women, only 17.73 per cent drove professionally. Today, that number is increasing fast.
However, this wave of women drivers is not just being seen in big cities. Smaller towns are also starting to see this ‘drive’ towards change. A spokesman from the body said that a significant increase had been seen in the number of women fleet operators over the last few years, driving four-wheelers, three-wheelers, and even two-wheelers.
No exact numbers were available for professional women drivers at Ola and Uber, as both companies refused to divulge details. But Delhi-based NGO Azad foundation is working tirelessly to provide livelihoods for resource-poor women in India and make the country safer for women. The foundation has launched a ‘Women on Wheels’ programme, aimed at empowering women with minimal economic and social capital, to help them become professional drivers.
Although seeing a woman chauffeur might help many women customers feel safer, their own safety and security must also be ensured. Hence, Susmitha from the Foundation, said, “Besides imparting the training to drive a car, the foundation also trains the women to address technical glitches with the vehicle on the road. To ensure their safety, we have collaborated with the Delhi Police to train them in self-defence.”