Babli is a 22-year-old graduate who has recently finished her B.A. in English, Political Science, Hindi and History. She lives with her parents, brothers, and sisters. Her father quit working sometime back because of health issues. To support her family, initially, Babli and her sister worked as tailors from home, though not earning much.
When Babli was at school, her mother fell sick and became partially paralyzed. Her father was the only earner in the family. Because of the financial pressure, Babli became financially independent early in her life. She finished school and joined a day care center for kids to earn some money. She even paid for her college tuition with her own salary.
In 2015, Babli met mobilisers from Azad who visited her neighborhood. After learning about the Women on Wheels programme, she decided to join and try her luck as professional driver. Her father encouraged her to learn how to drive and is now proud of his working daughter as driver.
After completing her training with Azad Foundation, Babli joined a safe transport solution company, Sakha Consulting Wings, which employs women drivers trained through WoW program.
Babli has been working for Sakha Consulting Wings for a year now. She recalls that the first job with Sakha Consulting Wings was very tiring and most of the day was spent waiting between drives. Now she works as cab driver with Sakha Cabs for Women by Women. She finds this job more exciting as she is eager to explore new routes and a variety of duties and clients, and thus grow as a driver.Together with her brother, Babli keeps her family family going with her earnings. She had contributed to her brother’s wedding and is helping pay for her younger brother’s education. Babli herself also wants to study more and do her masters.
Babli used to fear the dark and was afraid of being out alone, however driving and being out, often late, has slowly taught her to be unafraid. Now she feels confident even traveling alone for 24 hours to her parents’ village in Bihar. Driving around the city gives Babli a lot of exposure of the world outside her house. She does not believe that not going out is a solution to making cities safer for women.
She particularly appreciates the self-defense training, which she received at Azad, that made her able to defend herself. First aid was also very helpful; she remembers using her first aid skillson a friend who had an accident and injured her hand. People appreciate her courage on the road – taking pictures with her and saluting her.
In her family, no one forces her to get married. Babli stands up for her opinions now. She has explained to her family that the household work women do should be more valued, because the same work is being paid for outside the home. Her independence, and change in attitudes and opinions, has stopped her mother from policing what her daughters wear.
She has become an example for other girls in her neighborhood, who look up to her and want to follow in her steps.
In her word, “Who Babli jo Azad kepehledarridarrisirehtithibaharjaaneaurandhere se, who ab khulsigyihai, aur use driving bahutpasandhai.”(Babli, who once was very scared of stepping out and going out in the night, has opened up now. She loves to drive around.)