In our society, consciously or unconsciously, we have segregated jobs based on gender. For example, jobs like teaching, cooking, and dancing are considered to be more ‘feminine’ whereas jobs like driving, defense, engineering, etc. are considered to be more ‘muscular’ or ‘manly’. Hence, whenever we see any female bridging these unsaid gaps and working in unconventional roles, our hearts beam with joy.
Quite recently, I had a similar experience while booking a cab from a cafe in Chanakyapuri to its nearest metro station. When the cab arrived, it was a pleasing surprise to witness it being driven by a female chauffeur. I felt a sense of calmness and security while sitting in the cab. For the first time, I did not switch on my Google Maps and trusted the one used by the driver. I didn’t have to click pictures of the number plate and send them to my father because deep down I knew I was safe and secure. I remember when she dropped me off at my destination; I conveyed my sincere gratitude to her. That was not to appreciate her dropping me at the correct location but to appreciate her for taking up this job and continuing to do it so efficiently.
But this incident prompted me to think how saddening it is to stereotype this for a woman. Driving is always considered as a hobby, not as something they can make a living off. For many people, women drive when they have leisure time. Even if a woman is a certified driver, many still question their knowledge about cars, their mechanical processes, and the list goes on. In fact, except for a lucky few, many women are not even allowed to learn to drive. Some societal standards consider it as going against moral and family values.
But unlike the stereotyping motion, females have, from time to time, proven their ability to drive any transport of their choice. In 2018, the popular Indian ride-hailing platform, Ola, said the number of female-driver partners rises by 40% in every quarter for them. In fact, during the fiscal year 2019, 244.31 percent of driving licenses were issued to females in Delhi. The highest was in Kerala with 429.01%. Other than cars, many women had also proved their caliber when it came to other forms of vehicles: The Bikerni, the largest all-women motorcycle gang; The Pink City Rickshaw Company, an employment opportunity through e-rickshaws for women in Jaipur and more.
Along with building confidence among women, if women start taking up jobs that are traditionally reserved for me, then it would also impact the overall economic and societal aspects to an extent. Like with the increase in female drivers, the government can encourage more women to choose cabs to drop them at their destination. Many women (including me sometimes) prefer to walk or wait for someone whom they know other than book a cab, fearing how the driver may turn out to be. Hence, this initiative can improve the economy of the country as well as make a safe and hassle-free space for many women.
To conclude, I have used cabs several times, both in my hometown and in Delhi. But, this was the first time I had encountered a female driver. However, this shouldn’t be the case. We should live in a country where encountering female drivers should be a common thing. It should feel like a usual part of our regular lives. It may sound a little vague but here’s something that my father said about women driving cars. When I asked him why he is so hell-bent on teaching me how to drive, he said that driving is not only a hobby or a survival tool but it has a very important life lesson. Driving builds your confidence. When we operate a car and move it back and forth with our control, we acquire a sense of confidence, a sense of being in charge of our own decisions. When hundreds of cars are moving by on the road, we try to create our space and pave our way. Hence, every woman must learn to drive because, while learning to handle their car steering, many women may as well learn to handle their life’s steering all by themselves.