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Azad Foundation India

Azad Foundation, India

Women on Wheels: empowering women by training them as professional drivers.

Women on Wheels: empowering women by training them as professional drivers.

(Programme concluded and no longer supported by the Trafigura Foundation)

Women on Wheels (WOW) is a unique programme created by Azad Foundation that trains women to become professional drivers and helps them find jobs as private chauffeurs. The programme targets marginalised women living below the poverty line. Many of them live in slums and are victims of abusive relationships.

By opening new career opportunities for women in the transport sector Azad challenges common gender stereotypes that too often lock women out of respectful jobs. India ranks 120 among 131 countries in female labour force participation rates and sustainable solutions are urgently needed to promote women’s social and economic empowerment in the country. WOW programme, available in New Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ahmadabad, Bangalore and Indore, addresses this challenge in a highly innovative and effective way.

Azad’s complete training includes a technical driving course, driving theory and practice, map reading and basic mechanics. Participants also learn about women’s legal rights, self-defence, and can enrol in English language courses. The collaboration with Azad’s local partner Sakha Consulting Wings, a social enterprise that provides safe transport solutionsforwomenbywomen, ensures that some of the women that successfully complete Azad’s training can find a job at Sakha as private chauffeurs.  WOW programme not only helps women become financially independent, but also fosters their self-confidence and empower them to act as role models for their community, breaking barriers and social norms that restrict women’s opportunities and well-being.

In partnership with the Trafigura Foundation, Azad has trained 360 women and helped 250 of them acquire permanent professional driving license and find a job as chauffeurs. The Foundation also helped Azad take a step forward in the exploration of women’s employment in the transport sector: our partner is interested in enabling Indian women to get into bus driving careers. The exploration and implementation phase of this part of the project has been conducted by Azad in collaboration with the Indian government and main transport institutions. Thanks to Azad's intervention, in 2019, WoW trained 10 women to become bus drivers and five of them are now working as school bus drivers.

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