Stories of women driving autos or taxis, a profession dominated by men, aren’t uncommon in India. With the rise of cab-aggregators like Ola and Uber, however, women in Mumbai, especially those who come from conservative backgrounds, are slowly stepping out of the confines of rigid social structures and driving taxis at night.
Since these cabs are equipped with GPS tracking systems in their cars, women drivers in the city are not too worried about safety. As per this Indiatimes story, some of these women are stay-at-home mothers in the morning and cab drivers at night.
The income allows them to support their household in a city like Mumbai where the cost of living is very high, while also giving them financial independence.
Speaking to Indiatimes, 30-year-old Rizwana Shaikh says that she rarely comes across unruly customers. “However, when sloshed men book the cab I feel uncomfortable and don’t go ahead with the ride,” says Shaikh.
She reportedly earns a monthly income of ₹30,000-40,000 per month. Her husband, a small businessman in Jogeshwari, is fully supportive of this endeavour.
While they declined to reveal any specific figures about their operations in Mumbai, both Ola and Uber state that this trend of women taking up cab driving gigs is on the rise.
“The number of women partners is growing by over 40% quarter on quarter in metros as well as tier-2 and -3 cities. We have women working with us across categories like cabs, autos and bikes,” said an Ola spokesperson to Indiatimes.
One of the real advantages that cab aggregating platforms like Ola and Uber offer these women drivers flexibility when it comes to working hours. “I take bookings only when I can manage. Also, I do not have to park my vehicle at the stand and wait for commuters. This is way more convenient and safe,” said Vidya Shelke, who lives in the western suburbs with her husband and two children, to Indiatimes. She has been driving her cab for the past six months.