Kudumbasree has come up with another novel idea that might address not only the immediate safety concerns of women but also larger issues such as economic independence and gender equality. The self-help group is launching women-driven taxis with customised features for women.
The new venture is expected to cater women who are required to travel outside regular hours, often alone, by nature of jobs. The project will be piloted in the capital, and extended to other towns later depending on its success.
Kudumbasree will buy Nano cars, with customised features to ensure the safety of the women driver, for the venture. The service will be available round the clock, with a focus on Technopark, bus and railway stations. “To begin with, we are planning to acquire 20 taxis, which will even have a unique colour and the emblem of the SHG for easier identification,” Kudumbasree executive director K B Valsalakumari said.
The taxis will have geographic positioning system to enable tracking of its location from a central unit, an electronic billing system and a partition between the front and rear seats to ensure the driver’s safety.
“We are in discussions with the manufacturers regarding the added features for the car. Since the taxis will ply even in odd hours, it is mandatory to ensure the maximum security for the driver,” she said.
The choice of Nano cars was made after considering several factors like space required for parking and economic viability.
The project is planned on a 100% entrepreneurial model, with bank assistance for funding.
“We are also in discussions with banks, and many of them have expressed interest in funding the project. The service of Kudumbashree will also be offered to the elderly, and considerable demand is expected from this group as well. We are working on the economics now,” she said.
Valsalakumari claimed that the idea has already generated good response. “We had an apprehension initially whether we would get enough women drivers. However, many have turned up with driving licences.”