Azad Foundation’ statement on the death of Bharathi Veerath, Bengaluru’s First Woman Cab Driver
The entire Azad team has read the news about the death of Bharathi Veerath, Bengaluru’s First Woman Cab Driver, with great sadness. Our thoughts are foremostly with the closed ones of Ms. Veerath, who must be devastated about such a sudden loss.
Bharathi Veerath was one of the female driver pioneers, who boldly entered a profession which has traditionally been closed to women. She followed her dreams and has become an important role model for other women, demonstrating that a woman can become successful in any field, be it driving or other profession traditionally assigned to men. Her life achievements are memorable and the ones she should be remembered for.
The circumstances of her sudden death, and reasons for it, are unclear as of now. Reports suggest that Ms Veerath had quit her job in Bengaluru and was planning to move back to her hometown in Ongole in Andhra Pradesh. Whether her job had played part in her decision to end her life is an unsupported speculation.
Nevertheless, Azad strongly believes in the importance of creating support systems and nurturing environment for women drivers it trains and employs through its sister organization Sakha Consulting Wings.
As the job market is gradually opening up to female drivers, it is imperative that cab companies and other employers are creating gender sensitive environments for its female employees and are putting in place policies to protect and support their workforce. This is crucial, as our experience tells us, the women that are choosing the driving profession generally come from particularly vulnerable backgrounds and often deal with intense opposition towards their choice of this non-traditional livelihood.
Some of the initiatives that could be introduced by the employers include access to professional and confidential counseling and women mentorship schemes. The government should enforce specific code of conduct for taxi companies employing women drivers, with internal committees being set up to safeguard compliance, to ensure sensitive work environments for women drivers.
About Azad foundation
Azad Foundation is an Incorporated Trust established in 2008. Its Women on Wheels programme is a unique social enterprise that provides non-traditional livelihoods with dignity to resource poor women on one hand, while on the other it offers safe and alternate transport options to women travellers in selected cities in India.
Azad Foundation prepares women from disadvantaged backgrounds to become professional and commercial chauffeurs, while its sister organization Sakha provides remunerative and safe employment options to women trained by Azad. To date Azad has enabled over 700 women to become professional drivers and brought to market close to 300 women drivers. For more information, visit www.azadfoundation.com
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