In 2013 news of New Delhi’s only female rickshaw driver began to emerge, now, two years on it seems that female drivers are a more familiar sight. And this is not restricted to the capital, it seems that more and more women are feeling empowered to take to the rickshaws.
The iconic yellow and green vehicles are an integral part of the Indian street scene – a lot like the big yellow cabs in the U.S. It wasn’t so long ago that the vehicles were driven exclusively by men throughout the chaotic and dense city roads. In recent years more female drivers have ventured into this line of work, to not only drive Indian customers but female travelers too, making the city feel safer for female travelers.
The first woman behind the rickshaw
In 2013 the story of Sunita Chaudarhy surfaced around the world. The Indian was the first female tuk-tuk driver in New Delhi. Only one woman among 60,000 male drivers, Sunita pathed the way for the current trend in the rickshaw business in India, and as a result empowered women all over the world.
Currently hundreds of women in India are learning how to drive a motor rickshaw. According to the rickshaw business many more women are applying for a job as tuk-tuk drivers.
With the increase of women drivers, and the demand from female customers to be driven by a female, the male rickshaw drivers are becoming angry with their new competition and have reacted negatively as there is a clear shift and movement to more gender diversity.
The negative backlash comes in the form of verbal insults, pricked tires and other vehicle damage. Male drivers perceive the women as ‘taking their business’, however for the women their job is an opportunity to get them out of poverty.