Zeenat is a 22 year old cab driver, working with Sakha Cabs for Women by Women. She lives with her family of four brothers, two sisters and parents. Her sister, although married, lives with them together with her two kids, because her husband left her for another woman. Her father works as a construction worker. Her mother recently died after a long sickness of cancer and kidney issues, so she needed regular blood transfusions and dialysis – some of which the family could not afford.
Zeenat and her mother met people handing out pamphlets about Azad and its Women on Wheels program near their home. Zeenat was not interested initially, but her mother was insistent and enrolled Zeenat for the Women on Wheels program.
Zeenat didn’t get much support from her family to undertake the programme and become professional driver. Her father used to say that she should work in traditional jobs for women – as seamstress or beauty parlor technician, and that they would give her a car when she got married, if she liked to drive.
Zeenat finished her training however she did not start working until about two and a half years later due to her mother’s sickness and other issues at home. During this time, she was selling dishwashing products, knocking on doors from home to home. She found this to be a very tiring job, plus the money was not good. She believes her mother fought to stay alive till Zeenat was finally ready to join Sakha and start earning a decent living. Her mother’s death then pushed Zeenat to live up to her expectations and become professional women driver.
Zeenat’s father and brothers have accepted her decision to be chauffeur. They are supportive now and respect her independence thanks to professional driving. They also trust Azad and Sakha, as Zeenat has explained to them there are various support systems in place to ensure her safety and friendly work environment, such as 24hs helpline, GPS tracking, training in self-defense and gender issues, etc. Sometimes she leaves home when it’s still dark and sometimes she returns past midnight. Her family does not object and is also not too worried about her safety anymore.
Zeenat enjoys driving and feels good about being out and working to earn her living. Other taxi drivers, usually men, are always very encouraging and admiring when they encounter her. Her financial independence and ability allow her to contribute towards her brother’s loan repayment and his education. She also contributes toward home expenses when required, but her father insists she keeps her earnings for herself. Zeenat is hopeful and ambitious about her future. Someday she wants to buy herself and her family a house of their own.