Although we are familiar with the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words’ we still like to preach it more than we practice. Empowering the womenkind is one such area where more often than not people end up doing lip service instead of actual service.
Suseiben Shah is a 45-year old modern-day visionary, an entrepreneur, and founder of an NGO. Priyadarshini Taxi Service (PTS) beams confidence as the business is built and run by women from the scratch. Their taxis run round the clock on the streets of Mumbai.
What started with as a humble initiative is now a source of income of dozens of family alongside bending the gender stereotypes that women don’t make excellent drivers. PTS has come up as a great platform that works with women from lower middle-class families, where career options are always slim.
A good suggestion
Once, Suseiben organized a conference on legal awareness for women and met former union minister for child and women development Renuka Chowdhury. She suggested Suseiben to start training women to take up driving jobs and it came across as something workable.
An advertisement was sent out against which she received a pleasant number of 55 applications. She shortlisted 25 aspirants but out of them only two could afford to Rs 10,000-12,000 training fee. It was a tough call but Suseiben went ahead with it.
Today, their pink uniform has become a symbol that represents women power and is a safe place for commuters. Their professionalism and dedication has earned them the tag of being the most women-friendly cab service in Mumbai.
Happiness of being self-reliant
PTS is a much bustling and happy place now. Currently, they receive assistance from the government and therefore provide free three-months training to the aspirants. Along with driving classes, PTS now also offers lessons on communication skills, etiquette, and knowledge on various tourist spots so that aspirants coming from economically-weak background can also find work as a tourist guide, too. Adding another streak of care and warmth, Suseiben’s firm also curates special packages for senior citizens considering their health status and special needs.
All the students are also trained to handle difficult situations and emergencies, with skills like handling first aids and self-defence techniques. They are given yoga and meditation classes to deal with everyday stress and live a healthier life.
Once the training is finished, the students bag jobs paying them Rs 10,000 to 15,000 monthly, out of which they give away Rs 700 to PTS. This might not seem as a big amount to many but this money plays a crucial role for them in paying their household bills, buying a smartphone, or paying for their children’s fee.
A small community initiative can result in bringing about 180º change in lives of the workers and their family members. Not only do they feel included in the mainstream society, they also start nurturing dreams and working towards them — something that never coexisted with poverty.
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