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Driving change: Shimla women gear up for entrepreneurship

On second day of the month-long course, women were taught about traffic signs and rules. The 21-member batch has women from all walks of life — from housewives wanting to help their families to college students who wish to become entrepreneurs.

india Updated: May 10, 2017 19:17 IST
Saurabh Chauhan
On second day of the month-long course, women were taught about traffic signs and rules.
On second day of the month-long course, women were taught about traffic signs and rules.(HT Photo)

Racing away from a society that says driving isn’t the ‘right’ profession for women, 21 rural women are learning nitty-gritties of driving in Shimla.

An outcome of the collective efforts of district administration and Rural- Self Employment Training Institute, 21 women are being imparted driving lessons following which they will be provided with help in arranging finance for taxis.

Naldehra resident Nisha Garg said she has two commercial vehicles at home. “I wanted to learn driving and help my husband in his business but never got the chance,” she said. Excited to sit on the driver’s seat, she said, “I am happy to be a part of this programme.”

“Our patriarchal society pokes fun at the mere mention of female drivers,” said Suman Lata, adding that she got a negative reaction from her family when she talked about learning driving.

“It’s not easy for women to break social barrier and think about living independently,” she said. “Woman on the driver’s seat is symbol of social change.”

On second day of the month-long course, women were taught about traffic signs and rules. The 21-member batch has women from all walks of life — from housewives wanting to help their families to college students who wish to become entrepreneurs.

Preeti Chauhan, student of MA (public administration), at the Himachal Pradesh University is also one of them. “I sat on driving seat for the first time. I want to earn livelihood by become an owner-driver,” she said, adding that there was no resistance from her parents for her decision to learn driving. “My family believes there is nothings that a woman can’t do. I will encourage other girls of my village to become entrepreneurs so that they can become self-dependent,” she said.

There were 200 applications of which 21 got selected after interview process. “We are focused on emboldening and empowering women through this programme,” Surinder Singh, Rural- Self Employment Training Institute (R-SETI) director, said.

Shimla deputy commissioner RC Thakur said, “The idea came to my mind a year back when there we received a lot of complaints about overcharging and rude behaviour of taxi drivers.”

“We thought — why not have women cabbies? It will open up a source of income for them, make Shimla a women-friendly city and will also create a more customer-friendly system.” he added.