Uttarakhand’s first female cab driver gives free driving lessons to needy women
DEHRADUN: Never did Mamta Poojari ever imagine of finding herself behind the steering wheel of a cab. It was obvious. Female cab drivers in Uttarakhand was unheard of, unlike in metros such as Delhi and Mumbai.
But Fate had its own plan for Mamta, who took up driving to financially support her family. And in the process, the 35-year-old from a remote area of Narayankoti near Ukhimath, Rudraprayag became the first woman to drive a cab in Uttarakhand.
Mamta’s father is a retired government teacher, and both her sisters married. She is the youngest in her family and was preparing for competitive exams when her life changed completely. Shruti Kaushik, secretary of NGO ‘Saheli Trust’, convinced her to take up a career in commercial driving. And Mamta couldn’t disagree all the more after realising the limited avenues to earn a living.
“Forget the hills, even women in cities like Dehradun and Haridwar haven’t thought of pursuing a career in professional driving. That’s what clicked with me. I wanted to support my family and this was a perfect chance,” she tells Hindustan Times.
Though the trust launched ‘She Cab’, a van exclusively for women, it wasn’t easy to get a full-time female driver. “The idea is to provide exclusive cabs for women, keeping their security in mind. But, getting a female driver was tough. Mamta was keen and we gave her training. We want women who come from weaker sections of the society to take up driving for supporting their families,” Shruti says.
Mamta now drives the lone She Cab in Doon.
Right now, the trust is carrying out a survey to identify more women who are willing to earn living as professional drivers. It wants to spread the business in other centres and, in the process, provide a safe travel option for women. “The security of lone women passengers is certainly why we started this service. We also want to cater to foreign women tourists as well,” Shruti says.
The trust works with women in remote areas, training them free of cost in sewing, art and other crafts as well. Mamta is doing her bit. “I am coaching women interested in driving. This will have dual benefits - first, the women will earn an|d second, we can make Dharam Nagari a safer place.”