First woman Uber driver expects many more to join to make women feel safe.
While we have already looked into the stories of many women who broke stereotypes and jumped into their fields of interest challenging men and their potential, here we are today, to know about Vennapusa Narayanamma from Telangana who has been into driving for more than a decade now and has become the first woman Uber cab driver. What was considered as a man's job, this lady of grit took up and has been in it consistently for years now? It was not an easy journey for her, for, many a time, she was questioned on her face as to why she had taken the man's job instead of opting for some decent job that suits a woman. From answering people's questions back driving her auto-rickshaw to becoming the diamond Uber driver today, Narayanamma's story has a lot to give all the shy ladies out there.
A Strong Will To Support Children And Family:
Vennapusa Narayanamma hails from Nizampet in Telangana. She turned out to be one of the few female auto drivers in the city who pulled the gear rod of the auto in the year 2006. She decided to enter into this male-dominated field not to prove her potential as a woman but to fulfill her duties as a mother to her two children. At the age of 26, Narayanamma purchased an auto-rickshaw with the help of an NGO. She started earning bread to assist her husband who does earn some money but working as an electrician and doing some other jobs. Ever since then, it is Narayanamma's income through her trips that has been keeping the family going along with supporting the children's education. "I decided to enter into this profession in 2006 when I realized that we will not able to handle the education and other expenses of our children as they grow up", she said. The women in the community also felt that it's a safe mode of transport for them. For more than 13 years, she drove an auto-rickshaw and in 2019, she joined Uber as a cab driver.
A Regular Day In Her Life:
Narayanamma would start her day gearing up her auto at 7am and started with dropping the students of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University - mostly girls. These girl students would rush to her auto owing to safety. This 40-around lady who entered into the profession in 2006, joined Uber as a driver partner in 2019. "From non-ac autos I have upgraded to air-conditioned cars,” she says with pride. Uber cab driver Narayanamma starts her day with her auto. She picks up her regular passengers in her auto, drops them in their respective workplaces everyday. Later, she takes care of cooking and other household chores and takes up cab driving until late evening. She then takes her auto to drop those who she picked up in the morning. She often finishes around 20 trips in a day while managing the household chores on the other hand. Whenever she has longer trips, she drives till 12am to finish the target of 15 rides a day.
Uber - Driver Friendly Too:
Narayanamma says that Uber has been quite friendly stating that they allocate mostly women passengers to her. She also tells that Uber gave her two safety kids unlike other drivers. Her safety kit includes pepper spray, umbrellas, tiffin boxes, etc. "I mostly have only women boarding my car which is better and safe for the passenger as well as me as a driver.", she says. She says with immense pleasure that her passengers till date are surprised to see a lady holding the steering. "They have been very supportive and many tell me they feel proud seeing me drive,” she states.
Challenges - Not Exempted:
When people saw Narayanamma on the driver's seat, she experiences mixed comments. Men drivers, who are actually jealous of women stepping into very field, feel uncomfortable looking at Narayanamma compete with them in taking the trips. "The men feel like there is some competition between us and them.”,she says. Also, another challenge is that there are very less women who choose this profession. Even if they are interested, they are not often encouraged by family, friends and society. People like Narayanamma who choose to dare are often thrown with questions. "When I started working in this profession and even now a lot of people make fun of me. Some even go so far as to tell me on my face that this job is not for women. But I never pay attention to such comments and focus on working hard,” she adds. Her passion for driving coupled with her determination to support her family kept her going. She also says that not everything and everyone is negative. There are a few cases that instill joy and positivity in her that keep her going. The support of her family members especially her husband is a great boost to her. “My husband happily sits in my taxi or auto if we have to go somewhere,” she says. She also says that other drivers treat her like a sister. “Whenever my vehicle needs repair and I need any help, they spend their own time to help me get back on the road,” she adds.
Overcoming The Hurdles:
Narayanamma who says that driving is liberating for her has become a diamond Uber driver within just 6 months of her joining. She says with pride that she earns more than Rs. 40,000 per month with which she has been supporting her children by giving them the best of everything. Her desire to get good education came true when she strived hard to get her children educated. Her daughter is an M Pharm first year student, while her son is a fourth year B.Tech student. "Right from when I began driving an auto in 2006, I had the courage to survive in this field. I am determined to feed my family on the three wheels till I have the ability and patience,” she states.
A Piece Of Advice To The Women:
Narayanamma says that she has been the only woman fighting in the men's zone driving an auto and now driving a cab. “Uber has been trying to employ more number of ladies but from the past year no woman has joined. I hope more women leave their fear and come forward without being shy of the type of job. At the end of the day, we are all working for money,” she says. Narayanamma opines that everyone must support and help women pursue their dreams and aspirations. "Most women prefer government jobs, bank jobs or the IT sector. Only a gutsy few dream of choosing driving as a profession", she says. It is very important for women to pursue their passion and requests society not to pull them back. “Women keep their passion aside due to societal pressure. It is time for women to break the barriers and make a place for themselves in male-centric fields,” she opines.
Shout out to the gutsy lady out there and may she continue to inspire many young and shy women who are compromising on their wishes fearing societal pressure.
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