NEW DELHI -- In the country's "rape capital", every day 250 young women from various villages in the city head out for commercial driving lessons. These women will next year form a fleet of cab drivers with app-based aggregators in the city, entering what is largely a male-dominated industry. Soon, 900 more will be added to this number, according to the Indian government.
“We will also do it in cities such as Chandigarh, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Chennai,” said Thaawar Chand Gehlot, minister for social justice and empowerment, to Mail Today.
The central government scheme, announced in May this year, has already attracted these young women, who all belong to families of safai karamcharis (sanitation workers). The women are given self defence training, so as to give them confidence to drive during odd hours of the night and travel to different parts of the city. Organised by National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation (NSKFDC), they earn Rs 1,500 per month as stipend, and are expected to earn regular salary as drivers with app-based services like Uber and Meru cabs once their seven-month training is complete. The government is expected to ink an agreement with these cab aggregators soon.
“Collecting someone’s excreta in a bucket, and carrying it away on your head is the worst job in the world. My mother did it with her head covered in a veil. I hope to bring some dignity to our lives. I can exercise choice. She could not,” said one such woman driver to Mail Today.
“It’s a wretched job he had to do. My mother has been doing his job for 10 years. I can see some hope in our lives now,” said another.