Government’s Gender Park initiates service by women for women
‘She Taxi’ is the first off-campus project initiated by The Gender Park which has been newly set up by the Department of Social Justice, Govt. of Kerala, to unify all activities in the state aimed at achieving gender equity.
The pilot service will be launched in Thiruvananthapuram on November 19 with an initial fleet of five cars, expected to be scaled up to 100 in three months, with plans to extend the service to Kochi and Kozhikode in the next phase.
Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, is partnering the Gender Park as the official supplier of the customised pink and white ‘She Taxi’ cabs, which will be kitted up with the best available automobile technology including GPS, precision metering systems, personal and emergency alert systems, in-car entertainment and other luxuries. The carmaker will also help provide training to women drivers at the Maruti Driving School.
The Gender Park will identify the beneficiaries and assist the women in securing low-interest loans from the Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation (KSWDC). It will also arrange for health insurance and provide self-defence training for the women drivers.
The fleet operations and marketing will be handled by Technopark-based Rain Concert Technologies Ltd which is setting up a 24-hour call centre for the purpose. The taxis will have round-the-clock access to the control room and they will be monitored and assisted by the Police.
“A safe and reliable mode of travel for women on the move is perhaps a long-overdue service. ‘She Taxi’ is going to be a milestone for the public sector,” said Kerala’s Minister for Social Justice Dr M K Muneer. “We know of women-driven taxis operated by private firms and NGOs, but this is the first initiated by a government platform and we will make sure this becomes a model for everyone to follow.”
And what makes it even more special is the fact that these taxis will be owned by the women drivers, Dr Muneer said. “So the ‘She Taxi’ is not just for security of women, it is a means of promoting entrepreneurship and self-employment.”
Shri PT M Sunish, the CEO of Gender Park, said they have developed a business model for the ‘She Taxi’ which projects a monthly income of at least Rs 20,000 for the women entrepreneurs. “We have factored in every possibility and still believe it will be possible to earn around Rs 20,000 a month for an estimated 8 hrs of operation everyday for 22 days a month. We are also thinking of maximising revenues for these women through adverts on the sides of the cars, in-car LCD systems for streaming ads and so on.”
He said the Gender Park would like more women to come forward to take up the entrepreneurial opportunity. “With so many women travelling singly for business, professional and personal needs and the current concerns about their safety, we believe there is a huge market for women-operated cab services,” Shri Sunish said. “It is also very empowering for a woman to strike out into a business dominated by men. We see that in the extraordinary, self-confident women drivers who have signed up to be part of our pilot service.”
The She Taxis will initially carry only women passengers travelling by themselves, in groups or accompanying families.
The Gender Park hopes that as attitudes change and the women-driven cabs find their social space, the service will be extended to everyone.