“Need to help women cab drivers stay in profession”

Bindu Shajan Perappadan
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I was recognised for my work, even given an award: Urmilla

Urmilla, one of the first few women cab drivers of Delhi, flanked by her parents.- Photo: Sandeep Saxena
Urmilla, one of the first few women cab drivers of Delhi, flanked by her parents.- Photo: Sandeep Saxena

“The monsoon in Delhi brought with it two good news for my family this week. I finally landed a job after being unemployed for over a year and the rain brought with it the much needed relief from the oppressive heat that the city has been experiencing,’’ smiles Urmilla, one of the first few women cab drivers the city has.

Urmilla, who hails from a lower middle class family and is the only earning member of her family, despite being awarded by the National Commission for Women earlier this year for her outstanding work as a cab driver remained unemployed for nearly a year.

“I was recognised for my work and even given an award but sadly was not good enough to be employed,” says Urmilla.

“See awards and recognitions don’t put food on the table. They are welcome, but I wish the government had also noticed that I have been unemployed for a year,’’ she says.

Speaking about the fate of women cab drivers in the city, she says: “In my new assignment I will be required to pick-up and drop female customers to and from the airport. I know my job and am happy to be able to earn again. But the Government too needs to ensure that proper encouragement is provided to women drivers to help them stay in the profession.’’

Four years ago Urmilla dared to make a difference and took up employment as a cab driver in Delhi.

“Things were actually good. I had a steady income and though I continued living with my parents I earned enough to allow my mother to retire. But the dream run ended with my company shutting down a year ago, ever since then I have been trying to get a job. The absence of me having a commercial driver’s licence added to my trouble,’’ says Urmilla, sitting in her one-bedroom house in North Delhi, alongside her parents.

Urmilla’s father retired as a support staff from a government hospital some years ago and the family was forced to live on his pension for a year. “I am 30 years old and it hurts me to still be dependent on my father for my needs. I wish I was more of a support to them,’’ says Urmilla, who claims that she had applied to several companies for an employment opportunity.

“Now that I have my commercial driver’s licence I am grateful to have got this opportunity with a private cab company. I have to join this coming month and it will make life easier for my family,’’ says Urmilla.

Speaking about her award, Urmilla reiterates: “Recognition is welcome. It is an acknowledgment of the fact that society appreciates the contribution of a person. But I wish someone had also asked me about my problems. I am the only earning member in the family and I was unable to find a job for over a year. My parents are worried about my future constantly,’’ she says.



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