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National Campaign to promote driving for women reaches Kolkata National Campaign

National Campaign to promote driving for women reaches Kolkata

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 22 Nov 2021, 06:56 pm

Kolkata/IBNS: Shell Foundation, a UK based charity and the UK Government in association with Moving Women Social Initiatives Foundation (MOWO), has launched ‘Moving Boundaries’, a campaign to encourage women to pick up driving skills.

The campaign is aimed at removing roadblocks within the ecosystem to increase their job prospects in transportation businesses including as taxi and e-rickshaw drivers or as delivery agents for e-commerce companies.

Under this campaign, Jai Bharathi, founder of MOWO, is touring India on her motorbike from Oct 11 for a period of over 40 days and covering 11,111 kilometers approximately across 20 cities to create awareness and encourage women to learn driving to increase their job opportunities.

Bharathi reached Kolkata on the current leg of her tour. Starting from Hyderabad, she has covered Bangalore, Chennai, Kochi, Goa, Pune, Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Amritsar, Srinagar, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Patna, Guwahati and would now be covering Ranchi, Bhubaneshwar, among others.

“When we think about women empowerment there are many skills but in today’s world where the logistics centre is growing rapidly, mobility becomes an important skill. This is a sector where women are being left behind and purely because of lack of awareness.

"During the covid pandemic we have seen how important the mode of communication was so it is very important for women to learn mobility as a skill and also turn it into a fantastic livelihood opportunity. So we are on this campaign “Moving Boundaries” to make the voice louder to have more women in the mobility sector,” said Jai Bharathi, the founder of MOWO.

The campaign seeks to promote awareness on the importance of women acquiring the power of driving and travelling safely to expand their horizons in all aspects of their lives.

The focus is on enabling women to not only learn driving but also own electric vehicles to generate income which in turn can also reduce carbon emissions from transport.

‘Even Cargo’, a social enterprise providing training, employment, and electric vehicle ownership to women drivers is also supporting this campaign.

“We are also training and encouraging women to start using electric vehicles and adapt to this new EV revolution in the automobile sector,” Bharathi said.

As part of the campaign, a WhatsApp based chatbot has been rolled out for women who would like to learn driving a two or three-wheeler vehicle or apply for a job as taxi, auto or delivery rider.

Any interested person can express their interest by dropping "Hi" on the WhatsApp number +91 8885916606 and the chatbot will connect them to nearby partner organisations like Even Cargo which offer training and employment opportunities to women. The chat support is available in multiple languages.

“Women all over the world face restrictions on their mobility. They are unable to travel long distances to acquire decent education or take up jobs which involve complex or unsafe commutes which results in a restricted pool of job opportunities. I am very excited to take on this 40-day journey on my motorbike across the country to meet women from all strata and hold workshops to make driving an aspirational and achievable employment choice for them.

"Creating a safe environment where women have access to reliable transportation and they can drive their own vehicles to earn a living is a great way to increase employment opportunities for women in a sector which has predominantly been male-centric,” Bharathi said.

Speaking of the partnership, Shipra Nayyar of Shell Foundation said, “We launched ‘Moving Boundaries’ to promote safe, affordable, and clean transportation for women for better access to basic amenities like healthcare, education, and jobs.

"The focus is also to create an environment whereby more women can enter the workforce by learning how to drive and becoming owner-entrepreneurs of their vehicles in the transportation linked sectors such as e-rickshaws and as delivery agents.

"We hope that in the next 5 years, by supporting and helping build capacity of more such enterprises that train and employ women from low-income households, we will see a sizable number of women drivers owning and driving electric vehicles in over 100 cities and villages across India increasing safe transportation and connectivity for other women.”

Promoting employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women is an important goal for Shell Foundation.

Together with the Government of UK, Shell Foundation launched POWERED (Promotion of Women in Energy Related Enterprises for Development) in 2017, a women-focused programme to increase participation of women across the clean energy and mobility value chain in India.

The POWERED programme supports enterprises that promote inclusion of women in jobs in the transportation and logistics sector as well as enable them to own electric vehicles to earn an income.