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Female Taxi Drivers in Delhi

Female cab drivers in Delhi – breaking down stereotypes, earning a good living, and keeping the city safer.

Photo of Sean Hewens
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Chandni drives a cab in Delhi. This is not unusual. There are tens of thousands of cabs in this city. Chandni is a woman and a cab driver in Delhi. This makes her very unusual. She is one of 60 cab drivers in the city trained by the Azad Foundation. There is a strong stereotype here that women are not good drivers and should not be cab drivers. 

“This is not a good job for a woman.” Chandni has heard this over and over since she completed the Azad training as one of 9 in the first class of Azad drivers. Three women from her class remain on the streets of Delhi driving their taxis (or, perhaps more often, sitting in traffic). Chandni says that the other six women from this first class have stopped being taxi drivers largely because of “family problems… the male problem is very a very big problem.” Their husbands and their fathers and their brothers were not supportive of their profession, this despite the fact that they were now earning a good living and proving themselves as very capable drivers. Chandni says that she has been able to remain a driver because her parents are very supportive and proud of what she does. She has a boyfriend who is a taxi driver too. Sometimes he is supportive of what she does and sometimes he isn’t.

Chandni is getting her university degree via a correspondence class. She studies during the slow moments at work when she is waiting for her fares to finish their meetings or not yet ready to be driven to the next destination. What does she want to do when she graduates? She’d like to drive one of the giant orange Delhi city busses.

“Are there any female bus drivers in Delhi?” I ask? 

“I have no idea,” Chandni says. “That’s not important.”

Based upon her training at the Azad Foundation, as well as a week-long stint driving around a senior Indian judge, Chandni has a strong knowledge of the rights that Indian women have under the law. When asked what a solution might be for helping women and girls be safer in Delhi. “I know my law, so I can give my help to the police to protect women.”

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Photo of Sean Hewens

She found out about the Azad Foundation via a street theatre performance that was held in her neighborhood. During our time in India and Nepal these last few weeks, we've been learning a lot about street theatre, or radio broadcasts, or celebrity endorsements in newspapers as broadcasting methods by which people learn about new programs or information well outside the bounds of the Internet. We've been thinking about what applicability broadcast methods like these might have to designing greater inclusion of diverse community members in Amplify challenges on the OpenIDEO platform

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