India has always been on my radar in a love/fear kind of way. The intense poverty and filth vying with inspiring beauty and spiritualism has me in a travel checkmate. When you add recent headlines screaming that sexual assaults are skyrocketing in India, well you can see why even I might hesitate.
Needless to say (but I will anyway) women in India need help and we need help to travel there. Who knew it would arrive in my in-box AND it would involve taxi drivers? I sure didn’t see that one coming.
Eye-candy for the traveller – the G-Adventures newsletter – arrived wherein was a brief article about Women on Wheels, an organization they use for some of their trips in India. Intrigued I wanted more information so I clicked their link to Azad Foundation, the sponsor NGO. This sounded great. They identify and train women who have few resources and are crippled by poverty.
“The training includes self- defense, communications, grooming, map reading, first aid, women’s rights, English speaking etc. by collaborating with other organizations. The preparation period ranges from 8 to 10 months, over which time the women are also assisted to acquire driving license. Women drivers are also supported to open their bank accounts and are covered under an accident insurance as soon as they begin to drive on the roads.”
That’s pretty impressive, right?
The trail of breadcrumbs are a little tricky with this one and likely for most NGOs. Planeterra is the non-profit arm of G-Adventures who are an adventure travel organization. One of Planeterra’s partners is AZAD Foundation who operates the Women On Wheels program. Once the women are fully trained they are hired by Sakha Consulting Wings ( which was founded by Meenu Vadera, you can read an interesting article all about her). Apparently it takes a village for a woman to become a professional driver. Whatever, I’m glad everyone is on board.
Seems I’m not the only one who thinks this is a good idea. There is an organization called WomensTaxi.Org:
The ultimate mission for Women’sTaxi.Org is to unify all international W4W taxi services into the Global Women’s Taxi Alliance
They currently have women4women taxi companies in 12 countries including Lebanon and Mongolia (!!!). The following Indian companies all belong to the womenstaxi.org:
- Susieben Shah, a politican, created The Priyadarshani Taxi Service in Mumbai in 2008.
- Viira Cabs in Mumbai
- Shetaxi in Kerala, India has a very techy edgyness to them.
- Shecabs in Hyderabad, India just launched in February of 2014.
- As well as the Sakha Consulting Wings who started me off down this rabbit hole.
For goodness sake when you’re travelling, make sure to check out womenstaxi.org to see if there’s a women4women taxi service where you’re going. I will warn you that it may take some perseverance, many of these are young companies who are underfunded but the more we support them, the better chance they have of flourishing.
And if you would like to hire an uber trained Indian woman taxi driver, or chauffeur or just get a transfer from the airport in New Delhi this is the link for you: http://sakhaconsultingwings.com
I am a mega fan of the old proverb: Give a woman a fish, she will eat for a day, teach a woman to fish she will eat for a lifetime” so this project gets 5 stars from me. When (cause really, it is inevitable) I will so be using this service, for my sake as well as theirs. Let’s face it, this is benefical to both the solo women traveller and the women who get some independence, both financially and personally – this keeps us both safe.