The Women on Wheels programme empowers resource poor women to become professional drivers to enable them to gain remunerative ‘livelihoods with dignity’. The programme also enhances their awareness on rights and enables them to become independent and confident individuals in charge of their lives.
The Women on Wheels programme started in 2008 in Delhi. Since then it has expanded to Jaipur, Indore and Kolkata.
By preparing and placing women drivers as professional drivers, the Women on Wheels programme enables socially excluded female members of the society to move from the margins to mainstream economy. Through this process, we alter public perceptions about women’s participation in the booming public transportation sector and the role and status of women in society.
The Women on Wheels training and support
Women on Wheels programme provides technical, self-empowerment and self-development training to fully equip women to become self-sustaining professional drivers. Azad team also ensures that the trained and qualified women drivers are placed in secure jobs as professional chauffeurs through our sister organisation, social enterprise Sakha Consulting Wings Ltd.
How are we doing it?
Upon a successful registration for the programme, women commence our learner-centred training programme, which takes between six to eight months depending on the individual pace of a trainee. Azad works with a range of government, business and non-governmental partners to offer the highest quality training.
The training modules include driving theory and practice, basic mechanics skills and on road identification and map reading. We provide self-defense classes, as well as classes on gender equality and legal rights of women and women’s health and sexuality. We also deliver training on self-caring, financial literacy, effective communication and English language classes.
In addition, the programme team assist the trainees to acquire citizenship document and accident insurance, open a bank account and obtain a uniform and mobile phone. If needed, we also engage family members to ensure women receive on-going support throughout their learning journey to complete the training. Women with very little means are also offered financial and other support by giving them access to interest free loans.
Fostering change agents
We work with Azad trainees to facilitate improvements in the lives of their families and communities. Our team works with women’ rights organisations and networks to ensure the trained women drivers are empowered to protect their lives and dignity and that of other vulnerable members of their family and communities.
The training modules on women’ rights, protection from sexual harassment and violence, sexual and reproductive health and others are the building blocks of this process. In addition, we coordinate a network of women drivers and other women employed in non-traditional spheres so they can support and learn from each other. We also provide access to counsellors to ensure women are accompanied throughout their journey and have somewhere to turn to if facing domestic violence.
We engage with awareness campaigns that can make an impact on the lives of women drivers and their communities. Azad women drivers and trainees are part of the women’s movement advocating for gender equality in India. Through their engagement, Azad has been able to take the One Billion Rising Campaign to the slums, bastis and many ‘middle and upper class’ localities in the Indian cities we work in. Our women drivers and trainees have also participated in and learnt from several campaigns such as the ‘Safe Delhi Campaign’, ‘Say No to corruption campaign’, and ‘Say no to violence against women’.