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21 May 2019, Edition - 1407, Tuesday

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Coimbatore

Driving Women’s empowerment

C.B.Anushri

The rise of crimes against women has dissuaded many female passengers from using an auto or a cab with male drivers. The launch of M Auto this month is pleasant surprise for many women travellers of Coimbatore who can now choose to travel with more safety with women or transgender drivers.

“The presence of more women auto drivers will make students like me feel safe to travel during late evenings”, said Priyadarshini, a college student.

However, many women don’t enter this domain as they find it difficult to fight the tough competition posed by the male drivers.

Working late nights is not a feasible option for women drivers. To overcome this, autos and taxis should be equipped with panic buttons to safeguard the driver.

Salary, however, is a great concern for women drivers as is gender bias in workplace. Women feel they won’t get paid on par with men.

In 2015, the Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu launched ‘She Autos’, a scheme which provided CNG-fuelled auto to women drivers. In 2017, the Karnataka government had also launched Pink Autos for the safety of women. Meru Cabs, Viira cabs, Sakha Wings Consulting, Priyadarshini Taxi Service, She Taxi and Angel City Cabs are other private taxis which deploy women drivers.

An increase in women drivers in public transport will, it is felt, pave the way for women empowerment.

Some male drivers are, however, feeling threatened. “The rise of many auto chains in Coimbatore has led to a dip in our earnings. Women entering this field will pose more competition for me”, said Shekar, an auto driver in Sowripalayam.

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