Delhi might be home to India's first woman President, besides a woman chief minister, but when it comes to getting behind the wheels of a commercial vehicle, trained women drivers are still unable to make it.
Besides social prejudices, the Motor Vehicles Act lays down that trained drivers have to wait a year to get a commercial driver's licence.
"Due to social pressures and lack of opportunities during this time lag, women tend to drop out," says RK Parimoo, director, Institute of Driving Training and Research.
Renu Jacob, 28, a trained driver, was keen to make it as one of the city's first women cabbies. But she had to switch to teacher training. "I had finished my driver's training and was very excited. But I was under pressure to earn, so I opted out," she says.
Points out 24-year-old Gomati, who now conducts beauty training at the Delhi Police Foundation's NGO Navjyoti, "We can't afford a car, nor work as apprentices at a truck, tempo or a private taxi stand like the men."
Meanwhile, the demand for women drivers is rising. Says a senior official at radio taxi service provider Delhi Cab, "We have been actively looking out for women licence holders, but haven't found any. There's a great demand as women travellers feel comfortable and secure with them while travelling at odd hours."