Provide livelihood opportunities to women taxi drivers in Mumbai

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About the campaign

The following article was first featured on TheBetterIndia Make a contribution to provide skill training to destitute women in Mumbai. 

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Pink clad women – the wildest of our imaginations wouldn’t come up with the thought that they are taxi drivers. But that’s Priyadarshini Taxi Service for you – An all women fleet of cabbies taking on the roads of Mumbai – a completely male dominated space and notably, against the common notion that women are bad drivers.

Taking this completely out of the box idea to empower women, Priyadarshini Taxi Service has made a bold statement. Susieben Shah, the founder of Priyadarshini Taxi Service, says that she felt that women empowerment needed to look beyond the conventional ideas of papad or achar making. “There was a twinkle in the eyes of these women when the challenge of becoming a taxi driver was put to them. They want to do something different, something that is a boost to their self esteem”, says Susieben.


Priyadarshini’s lady drivers, 20 as of today, come from lower middle class families. At Priyadarshini, the cab fleet, the office staff, the director, the shareholders, the call center personnel – the entire show is run by women. This is indeed big take on the myth that women cannot work together in harmony.

The women are interviewed, chosen and given intensive three month training before they wear their pink uniforms as taxi drivers. Their families are interviewed too to make sure that there is family support for these women who would be out on the road for more than 10 to 12 hours in a day. The training, which is given free of cost to the women – thanks to the grant given by the government, is not just about driving. It covers a whole lot of things that will help the women handle their tough job. 


They learn to maintain the cars, get some knowledge on the tourist attractions in Mumbai to act as a driver cum guide, get equipped with first-aid skills to handle emergencies and learn some self-defense techniques. A crash course on communications skills, basic accounting, etiquette and cleanliness is given along with yoga and meditation classes that will help them handle stress. So at the end of three months, they are confident team of women who are all set for the challenges on the road.

The streets of Mumbai have seen these lady taxi drivers catching up with their male counterparts since 2008. Since then they have earned the name as the most women friendly service in Mumbai. Women trust them for their safety and families for their comfort and friendliness.

Now for the obvious question, how safe has it been for the women drivers? It is a tough job, but Mumbai being Mumbai, has been extremely friendly to the lady drivers. They are on the streets during the wee hours of the nights too but nothing untoward has happened. The women say that both the customers and other male taxi drivers have been friendly to them. Public toilets, though Sulabh public toilets have been of great relief, could have been better, says Susieben.


A wide section of destitute and economically backward women, have dependents with a twinkle in their eyes and want to stand on their own feet, become economic independent & self-reliant. What they lack the opportunity, to reach their dreams!! We provide them that platform to train & transform, free of charge to the trainees.


Coming from families that have struggled to make their ends meet, these women are able to single handedly earn an income of 10 to 12 thousand rupees a month. They have driven their way to success that translates into better living for their families and better education for their children – a positive impact that will ripple across many lives.

SKILL BUILDING TRAINING


Priyadarshini provides women with adequate vocational trainings in
  • Driving Skills for commercial driving (ongoing training since 2007)
  • Rugna Sevika (Home Health Aid),
  • Pre selection preparatory training for Police Constables,
  • Private security Guard training

These are scheduled to begin along with, placement opportunities, to the said participating trainees.

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We would like to share the experience of some of the women drivers as to how Priyadarshini Taxi Service has changed their lives.

Rajishwari Gopireddy, 34 years, earlier a house keeping staff, 6 years with Priyadarshini Taxi Service says, “The payment was good with Priyadarshini Taxi. I have daily cash in hand as compared to earlier when I had to wait till the end of the month for hard cash and now my family doesn’t have to wait for anything. I am able to pay my bills regularly and have also started to save for my children’s future.”

Sushma Pasi, 25 years, earlier was at home looking for work, 5 years with Priyadarshini Taxi Service says, “I read about Priyadarshini Taxi in the newspaper and also was told by a friend. I liked driving and always had my mother’s support. I have made my own house from my money and firmly believe that ‘Work is Worship’. I feel very proud to be a part of the Priyadarshini Taxi Service and I am proud of ladies driving. I am very happy today.”

Saroj Shivam, 45 years, had been driving earlier with another taxi service, 5 years with Priyadarshini Taxi Service says, “I had heard about Priyadarshini Taxi Service and knew it was a good company, so I decided to quit my earlier company to join here. I have an excellent Lady Boss, she gives us total independence in our work. The more you work, the more you can earn. There is no work pressure on us. I have a big family with 4 children and because of the financial freedom; I am able to educate all my children very well. This job has brought about a lot of changes in my family life.”

Sushma Hiwale, 41 years, 7 years with Priyadarshini Taxi Service, was earlier a graphic designer and being strongly recommended to come and look at the opportunity with Priyadarshini Taxi Service by a family friend says, “I came to take a look. I had heard about the concept of women driving and I personally like to drive and travel, so I decided to join this company. It gives me good money, allows me to go places and meet with people from all walks of life. I have gained so many new experiences being with this company. I got the opportunity to take around with me the Lady Mayor of London and I felt very proud. All this, I feel would not have been possible anywhere else.”

and Somaiya Pathan, 31 years, 4 years with Priyadarshini Taxi Service, was a housewife earlier doing tailoring jobs and running a beauty parlour says, “After the unfortunate death of my husband, I was referred to this company by one of the drivers. I really thank everyone in this company as this opportunity has totally transformed my life for good. It has been a boon in my life. I suggest every woman should gather courage and come forward to participate in this life changing opportunity. I have 2 daughters and am independently able to take care of all their needs.”

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