Being the citizens of a democratic country, it is utterly gloomy on our part to still talk about women’s independence and rights. Even while living in the 21st century, people have not been able to change their perspective or demeanour towards women. The bias against women is still outspread in the society. Gender equality seems a distant dream not only in India but also in other developing and underdeveloped countries like the Middle East and South African countries. Even in many developed countries, the goal of gender equality has not been achieved fully. Women empowerment is still a major concern all over the world.
The girl child is still considered a burden in our society. It is still believed that women should only do household chores, bear children and take care of the family. The path to women empowerment really seems dark and bleak when we consider these bitter truths about our society. The government, various non-governmental institutions, women organizations and responsible individuals have been making serious efforts to achieve the objective of gender parity but these efforts have not been able to make the desirable difference to women’s lives.
For the true development of a country, it is a prerequisite that all its citizens possess the equal rights and opportunities. Our constitution grants equal rights to both men and women and also consists of several provisions for prohibition of prejudice and wrongdoings against women. But it’s appalling to say that these endeavours are acknowledged only on paper and not in practice. It is wondering if the lawmakers themselves follow the norms of gender parity. Hence, women empowerment can see a hope only if the change comes from within.
Despite all the injustice and discrimination agaist them, women are not behind men in any field. Women are increasingly coming forward to uplift themselves. They have learnt to fight for their rights if denied. But they are facing various challenges due to discriminatory practices of society. And in a country where we still talk about abolishing female foeticide practices, how does it feel when we talk about challenges for female drivers?
Here are some of the challenges faced by female drivers in our country —
1. Gender stereotypes in the society
There are people in our society who strongly give out the opinion that women cannot drive and only men know how to drive. They believe in the stereotypical sexual division of labour. They don’t let the females in their house learn how to drive. These people would not take a seat in a taxi run by a female. They consider driving to be unsuitable and unsafe for women. Such conservative and conformist people are a major impediment to women empowerment in our country. They need to understand that gender has no role to play in the task of driving and that women should be equally represented in every field.
2. Scepticism of society towards female drivers
Females are generally judged to be bad drivers by the people. If there is a case of accident of two vehicles and one of the drivers is female, then the female driver is held responsible for the accident even when the reality is otherwise. Some people even say that sometimes traffic occurs due to female drivers as they have poor driving skills. A female’s driving skills are always doubted and challenged no matter how experienced a driver she is.
The women drivers are always being guided and advised by the people on roads. It also happens that the family members keep recommending them to take a taxi or accompany someone instead of driving on their own.
3. Harassment of female drivers
The female drivers often face misbehaviour such as verbal abuse or vulgar remarks not only by their male counterparts but also by women. It has also been seen that sometimes even the traffic policemen try to harass female drivers by making false claims of rule violations such as overspeed vehicle. Also, the garage mechanics try to overcharge women assuming that they do not know much about cars.
Sometimes, people intentionally park their vehicles in front of a woman driver’s vehicle. People usually gaze at female drivers in an unwelcome manner. When people see a female auto or bus driver, they act as if they have never seen something more bizarre than this.
4. Lack of training for female drivers
There is a lack of training for female drivers as the gender biased people do not want them to learn driving. In most of the families, it happens that the sons are taught driving but not the daughters. Women are largely discouraged from becoming professional drivers. Women face great difficulty in availing a vehicle for themselves to practice driving.
5. Increasing crimes in the society
Owing to increasing crimes in the society, driving alone is considered very unsafe for women especially during late night hours. Increasing cases of chain snatching, robberies, road rages, drunk driving, sexual harassment, etc. discourage women from driving vehicles. In our society, women are more vulnerable to crimes as they are considered weak by the menfolk.
6. Lack of job opportunities for female drivers
The transportation companies or cab companies do not generally prefer to employ female drivers. This is because it is widely believed that women cannot drive a heavy vehicle like a bus or truck. These companies are aware of the fact that there are some passengers who do not prefer to take a ride in a car run by a female driver. Also, these companies do not want to take the responsibility in case a crime takes place against any female driver.
The need of the hour is to promote gender neutrality in society and to see any person as a human first instead of viewing them as a male or female. Let’s empower women to come forward as an integral part of the society so that they are fairly represented in every field or sector. Let’s not confine ourselves to our narrow mindsets. Let’s not be biased against women!