Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers

by Azad Foundation
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Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers
Help Women in India Become Professional Drivers

Azad Foundation works across social and religious divides to enable resource poor women to empower themselves by engaging them in remunerative and non-traditional livelihoods. We have been working on multiple levels, to advocate with the state and civil society actors and communities for opening up new markets for the women we train and to engage with men, women and adolescent girls to create an ecosystem of support for enabling women to adopt non-traditional livelihoods.

Advocacy to Open New Avenues for Women in Employment

Advocacy with the Delhi Transport Corporation


Azad has been engaging with DTC to include women as bus drivers since September 2014. The sole female bus driver in Delhi, V. Saritha was inducted in the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) in 2015, under the dynamic leadership and affirmative action of the then Chairperson and Managing Director of DTC, Ms. Debashree Mukherjee. 10 candidates trained by Azad Foundation had participated but got rejected on height requirements.

 

In 2021, Azad renewed its advocacy fuelled by an advocacy grant from RiseUp. During this phase, Azad conducted an evidence review on women drivers globally, along with primary data on potential of women drivers in Delhi. We had meetings with The Transport Minister, Shri Kailash Gehlot, DTC officials and the Transport Commissioner, Shri Ashish Kundra to enable entry of more women bus drivers in DTC. On February 11th 2022, the Ministry of Transport announced a reduction in the height criteria for women drivers from 159 to 153 cms and a waiver in the Heavy Motor Vehicle License duration and HMV training fee for women to facilitate entry of women as bus drivers.

Marking the success of our advocacy, Azad Foundation in collaboration with Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL) & the Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized a day long panel on 7th March 2022 ‘Towards Gender Equality and Sustainability in Public Transport’ at India International Centre, New Delhi, with The Minister of Transport, Govt of NCT of Delhi, Shri Kailash Gehlot as the Chief Guest. Shri Gehlot launched the Advocacy Brief “Claiming Spaces for Women in Transport” which emerged from a study undertaken by Azad highlighting critical recommendations to address gender based exclusion in transport. 

Shri Gehlot along with CESL CEO, Ms Mahua Acharya also flagged off an electric vehicle rally with e-bus, e-scooties and e-cabs driven by women drivers trained by Azad. This was followed by a key note address by Dr Rashmi Singh, The Special Secretary & Director of the Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Govt. of NCT of Delhi followed by a panel discussion.

Women in The e-Mobility Sector: Partnerships for Inclusion

In the year 2020-21, Azad expanded its Women with Wheels training program to two-wheeler training along with four-wheeler training to open up opportunities of employment for women in the e-commerce sector.  The 7th March event also marked the ongoing partnership between Azad Foundation & CESL to ensure future readiness of women in the rapidly growing e-mobility sector.

              Accessing Resources Through Collaborations

Jubilant Bhartia Foundation (JBF) launched its e-riders initiative to enable 2 Wheeler riders trained by Azad to enter employment on the International Women’s Day. Under this initiative, JBF will provide e-scooters to 25 women trained by Azad to facilitate employment of our women riders.  After paying off the cost of the vehicle in installments over a period of 2 years, the e-scooter will belong to the rider, enabling her to build an asset for income generation. This initiative will enable 131 women to earn a cumulative of INR 2.6+ crores by the year 2017.

“I have been working with Even Cargo since 2 months, after getting my e-scooter from Jubilant. Once, I was delivering a parcel to a woman and she was confused to see me at her door. I confirmed her name and number, but she still couldn’t believe that I was a delivery person. Then I called her using the same number I was using to coordinate the delivery and she finally believed me and congratulated me for the work I do.”

-Ashi, Delivery Partner with Even Cargo 

The first batch of 10 riders, including Ashi who is working as a delivery partner with Even Cargo, received the keys to their e-scooters during the launch of this initiative on 8th March while the second batch of 10 riders received their bikes on 1st June 2022. With the support extended, these riders are working in various e-commerce companies including Big Basket and Even Cargo, generating wealth for themselves and their families.

              Advocating for Change in The Community: #GharKaKaamSabkaKaam Campaign

The COVID-19 Pandemic saw a huge increase in the burden of unpaid care and domestic work on women across the world. The burden of unpaid care and domestic work including cooking, cleaning and caring for the elderly and children, imposes costs in terms of missed opportunities for education, skill acquisition and public participation for women. An average Indian woman spends 4 hours 59 minutes each day on domestic chores while men spend only around 1 hour 37 minutes doing the same, according to the NSSO Time Use Survey 2019. This also affects their workforce participation which is merely 18.4% as compared to 57.3% participation of men.

Azad has been engaging with men since the year 2014 with the aim of promoting and building an ecosystem of support, enabling women to enter non-traditional livelihoods. Through our Men for Gender Justice Program, we aim to transform the perspectives of young boys and men on gender, violence, unpaid care work and masculinity.

This International Labor Day, Azad launched a National month-long campaign #GharKaKaamSabkKaam in collaboration with Forum to Engage Men (FEM) Network and Non Traditional Livelihoods Network (NTLN) with the aim to transform the perspective on unpaid care work performed by women by ensuring that it is recognized as “work” and increase the participation of men and boys in unpaid care and domestic work, reducing the burden of women.

With the strategy of recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work, we, along with our partners reached out to communities across Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Chennai, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, through sensitization workshops, puppet shows, street plays, ‘Saajhedaari’ Melas (fairs), posters, wall paintings and many more creative activities, recording countless stories of change.

My mother, sister and sister-in law would wake up early in the morning and do all the household work till the end of the day, while the men of my family returned from their jobs and rested. No one ever asked the women if they were tired or needed rest. Seeing this, I knew it had to be changed. I realized that unpaid care work is a form of labor where women don’t even get paid. So, I have started participating in household work as my own responsibility which has given women in my family some time for themselves.

–Ravi, MGJ Leader, Jaipur

We released our first-ever podcast series ‘Kaam Ki Baat’ to initiate conversations on gender roles, paid and unpaid care work with experts working in the field of gender, masculinity, gender-based violence and work.

 

Azad Alumni Meet: Strengthening the Ecosystem of Support

Azad organises an Alumni meet twice a year across Delhi, Kolkata and Jaipur. The alumni meet aims to foster a sense of solidarity and provide a platform to its alumni from across programs to network, exchange ideas and renew their friendships.

The first alumni meet was organised in November 2021, on the National Constitution Day across locations around the themes ‘Equality’ and ‘Right to Choice’. The second alumni meet was organised in the month of March focusing on the theme “Women in the Workforce”. The events brought together more than a 1,000 Azad alumni including our trainees, drivers, feminist and youth leaders, for perspective building on themes including diversity, inclusion, gender-based violence, sexuality, unpaid care work and non-traditional livelihoods, along with fun games and activities.

Azad Foundation works across social and religious divides to enable resource poor women to empower themselves by engaging them in remunerative and non-traditional livelihoods. We have been working on multiple levels, to advocate with the state and civil society actors and communities for opening up new markets for the women we train and to engage with men, women and adolescent girls to create an ecosystem of support for enabling women to adopt non-traditional livelihoods.

Advocacy to Open New Avenues for Women in Employment

Advocacy with the Delhi Transport Corporation


Azad has been engaging with DTC to include women as bus drivers since September 2014. The sole female bus driver in Delhi, V. Saritha was inducted in the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) in 2015, under the dynamic leadership and affirmative action of the then Chairperson and Managing Director of DTC, Ms. Debashree Mukherjee. 10 candidates trained by Azad Foundation had participated but got rejected on height requirements.

 

In 2021, Azad renewed its advocacy fuelled by an advocacy grant from RiseUp. During this phase, Azad conducted an evidence review on women drivers globally, along with primary data on potential of women drivers in Delhi. We had meetings with The Transport Minister, Shri Kailash Gehlot, DTC officials and the Transport Commissioner, Shri Ashish Kundra to enable entry of more women bus drivers in DTC. On February 11th 2022, the Ministry of Transport announced a reduction in the height criteria for women drivers from 159 to 153 cms and a waiver in the Heavy Motor Vehicle License duration and HMV training fee for women to facilitate entry of women as bus drivers.

Marking the success of our advocacy, Azad Foundation in collaboration with Convergence Energy Services Limited (CESL) & the Asian Development Bank (ADB) organized a day long panel on 7th March 2022 ‘Towards Gender Equality and Sustainability in Public Transport’ at India International Centre, New Delhi, with The Minister of Transport, Govt of NCT of Delhi, Shri Kailash Gehlot as the Chief Guest. Shri Gehlot launched the Advocacy Brief “Claiming Spaces for Women in Transport” which emerged from a study undertaken by Azad highlighting critical recommendations to address gender based exclusion in transport. 

Shri Gehlot along with CESL CEO, Ms Mahua Acharya also flagged off an electric vehicle rally with e-bus, e-scooties and e-cabs driven by women drivers trained by Azad. This was followed by a key note address by Dr Rashmi Singh, The Special Secretary & Director of the Department of Women and Child Development and Social Welfare, Govt. of NCT of Delhi followed by a panel discussion.

Women in The e-Mobility Sector: Partnerships for Inclusion

In the year 2020-21, Azad expanded its Women with Wheels training program to two-wheeler training along with four-wheeler training to open up opportunities of employment for women in the e-commerce sector.  The 7th March event also marked the ongoing partnership between Azad Foundation & CESL to ensure future readiness of women in the rapidly growing e-mobility sector.

              Accessing Resources Through Collaborations

Jubilant Bhartia Foundation (JBF) launched its e-riders initiative to enable 2 Wheeler riders trained by Azad to enter employment on the International Women’s Day. Under this initiative, JBF will provide e-scooters to 25 women trained by Azad to facilitate employment of our women riders.  After paying off the cost of the vehicle in installments over a period of 2 years, the e-scooter will belong to the rider, enabling her to build an asset for income generation. This initiative will enable 131 women to earn a cumulative of INR 2.6+ crores by the year 2017.

“I have been working with Even Cargo since 2 months, after getting my e-scooter from Jubilant. Once, I was delivering a parcel to a woman and she was confused to see me at her door. I confirmed her name and number, but she still couldn’t believe that I was a delivery person. Then I called her using the same number I was using to coordinate the delivery and she finally believed me and congratulated me for the work I do.”

-Ashi, Delivery Partner with Even Cargo 

The first batch of 10 riders, including Ashi who is working as a delivery partner with Even Cargo, received the keys to their e-scooters during the launch of this initiative on 8th March while the second batch of 10 riders received their bikes on 1st June 2022. With the support extended, these riders are working in various e-commerce companies including Big Basket and Even Cargo, generating wealth for themselves and their families.

              Advocating for Change in The Community: #GharKaKaamSabkaKaam Campaign

The COVID-19 Pandemic saw a huge increase in the burden of unpaid care and domestic work on women across the world. The burden of unpaid care and domestic work including cooking, cleaning and caring for the elderly and children, imposes costs in terms of missed opportunities for education, skill acquisition and public participation for women. An average Indian woman spends 4 hours 59 minutes each day on domestic chores while men spend only around 1 hour 37 minutes doing the same, according to the NSSO Time Use Survey 2019. This also affects their workforce participation which is merely 18.4% as compared to 57.3% participation of men.

Azad has been engaging with men since the year 2014 with the aim of promoting and building an ecosystem of support, enabling women to enter non-traditional livelihoods. Through our Men for Gender Justice Program, we aim to transform the perspectives of young boys and men on gender, violence, unpaid care work and masculinity.

This International Labor Day, Azad launched a National month-long campaign #GharKaKaamSabkKaam in collaboration with Forum to Engage Men (FEM) Network and Non Traditional Livelihoods Network (NTLN) with the aim to transform the perspective on unpaid care work performed by women by ensuring that it is recognized as “work” and increase the participation of men and boys in unpaid care and domestic work, reducing the burden of women.

With the strategy of recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work, we, along with our partners reached out to communities across Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Chennai, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh, through sensitization workshops, puppet shows, street plays, ‘Saajhedaari’ Melas (fairs), posters, wall paintings and many more creative activities, recording countless stories of change.

My mother, sister and sister-in law would wake up early in the morning and do all the household work till the end of the day, while the men of my family returned from their jobs and rested. No one ever asked the women if they were tired or needed rest. Seeing this, I knew it had to be changed. I realized that unpaid care work is a form of labor where women don’t even get paid. So, I have started participating in household work as my own responsibility which has given women in my family some time for themselves.

–Ravi, MGJ Leader, Jaipur

We released our first-ever podcast series ‘Kaam Ki Baat’ to initiate conversations on gender roles, paid and unpaid care work with experts working in the field of gender, masculinity, gender-based violence and work.

 

Azad Alumni Meet: Strengthening the Ecosystem of Support

Azad organises an Alumni meet twice a year across Delhi, Kolkata and Jaipur. The alumni meet aims to foster a sense of solidarity and provide a platform to its alumni from across programs to network, exchange ideas and renew their friendships.

The first alumni meet was organised in November 2021, on the National Constitution Day across locations around the themes ‘Equality’ and ‘Right to Choice’. The second alumni meet was organised in the month of March focusing on the theme “Women in the Workforce”. The events brought together more than a 1,000 Azad alumni including our trainees, drivers, feminist and youth leaders, for perspective building on themes including diversity, inclusion, gender-based violence, sexuality, unpaid care work and non-traditional livelihoods, along with fun games and activities.


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Gop with his mother
Gop with his mother

October to December 2021

As the festival months of October, November and December came up in India, we were relieved that the next wave of the pandemic had held off so far. Thanks to the SOPs that were being strictly followed by our teams, our work picked up pace and we were happy to get going after months of hesitation and uncertainty. After more than a year, as more of us got vaccinated, we were able to meet in person and in small groups for our training programs, community visits, etc. 

While the pandemic has slowed us down (along with everyone else) we have been able to think beyond the work we have been doing in an effort to #buildbackbetter. One such initiative is to introduce electric cars and scooties. We have a total of four electric cars operating as taxis in Jaipur and Indore. Since November, all our trainees in Delhi and Jaipur, to start with, are being trained on electric vehicles as well as those that run on fossil fuel. 

Men for Gender Justice Program

Azad believes that the involvement of men and boys is crucial for women empowerment and gender equality. Risk- taking and aggressive sexual behaviour on the part of young men is often applauded by peers and condoned by society on some level. These stereotypes result in harm to both women and men and erode possibilities of establishing satisfying mutually respectful relationships. 

Young men and boys and can be encouraged to reflect upon and discuss issues surrounding masculinity, relationships and sexuality, which can help them to end high-risk and sometimes harmful attitudes and behaviours. Building up on this work and learning from other community programs, we aim to facilitate deeper engagement with a selected group of young men to engage in youth club activities and also effectively work in the community, particularly with other men, for gender justice.

In the Men for Gender Justice (MGJ) program, we work with young men and boys in the age group of 14 to 20 years to enable them to build their understanding of masculinities and support gender equality in their families and communities. The program has spread from Jaipur to Delhi and now to Kolkata as well. Of a total of 400 young men and boys who have joined us for this program, 60 have been selected for further leadership training. These leaders then work with their peers in smaller groups. 

The MGJ participants work with all the teams of Azad Foundation and are part of our campaigns such as One Billion Rising, campaign in support of Afghan Women’s Rights, etc. They help their community members to apply for citizenship documents and then access State schemes that they are eligible for. Over a period of time, they begin to speak out against violence (especially against women), support other women in their families in decision making and take a fair share of the unpaid care work in their homes. While initially they are mocked and face ridicule, as their understanding grows, they are able to support the women and girls in their families and communities, in spite of it. 

The young men and boys are initially engaged through sports activities that are popular in their areas and then introduced to topics such as the Indian Constitution, Human rights and Women’s rights, Gender and its implications, Violence, Unpaid Care Work, etc. A series of colourful graphic novels in both Hindi and English, have been developed to facilitate discussion around everyday issues in their lives.

Eighteen year old Gop lives with his parents and 2 brothers in Delhi  and studies in Class 12. His mother works from home pasting the uppers on shoes and his father is a daily wage laborer. Gop and his elder brother have been active with the MGJ program and never miss a session.

When we started out, Gop like many other MGJ participations was shy and would respond only when spoken to. As the group members got familiar and comfortable with each other, he started participating actively by asking questions, including the others and contributing to the discussions.

In the initial sessions, he was not able to understand forms of violence against women other than the physical ones or why men should do domestic work. As he attended more sessions, he was able to understand and speak about the everyday violence he sees around him, gendered roles and expectations.

Gop and his elder brother now do more work at home such as buying groceries, fetching water, cleaning the house, washing clothes and chopping vegetables. Their father tells them not to waste their time but to study instead. Their friends openly make fun of them. However, their mother is very happy to see the change in her sons. She says, “I find it easier to communicate with them now as they are more open and patient. When I fell ill for a couple of months, they looked after me and managed the house fully.”

Gop says, “While sharing the house work, I am able to talk to my mother easily. We now have more of an emotional connect than before and I like that.”

And we drive on...

Together with our other programs with young women, the Feminist Leadership Program and the Azad Kishori (Independent Adolescent Girls) Program, we are working to build a support system in families and communities so that women are able to go our for non-traditional livelihoods with dignity and without fear. 

With the strong support from within families and communities Sakha Cabs were able to provide close to8000 safe rides through a fleet of 50 taxis and with 75 drivers. We have placed 15 women chauffeurs in private jobs and 20 women riders have been placed with e-commerce companies as delivery executives. 

A third wave has started in many parts of the world. We are cautious but optimistic since most of our team is vaccinated and we are better prepared now with the SOPs needed to prevent the worst impact of the pandemic.

A big shout out to all our donors, supporters, customers and well-wishers without whom we would not have been able to come so far. THANK YOU! 

Our Annual Report 2020-21 is out now if you want to know more.

You can talk to us on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

YouTube

Our Website

Off to work!
Off to work!
My cab, my pride...
My cab, my pride...
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#Noturningback
#Noturningback

Together we are stronger!

July to September 2021

July brought with it some lifting of lockdown restrictions as the pandemic subsided in India. An active vaccination campaign by the State has ensured that Sakha drivers and the Azad team were able to get their first dose of vaccination. Our offices opened up tentatively, across locations. Only half the staff were allowed to attend each day, masks were mandatory, hands were washed at regular intervals and a physical distance was meticulously maintained. 

We invited doctors to talk to us, online, about Covid-19 and the vaccinations. There were so many myths floating around that this proved to be a valuable input. Over four online sessions, our teams in Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata and Indore interacted with doctors to know more about both physical and mental health issues arising from Covid-19. And importantly, how to keep themselves, their families and our customers safe through these difficult times. 

In May 2021, Azad Foundation had launched the #noturningbackcampaign to ensure that the lives of our women drivers and their families remained undisrupted by the second wave. Through your generous support we were able to ensure just that. Thank you!

Back to work in person

It was with relief that our teams have gone back to work physically in the midst of communities. 29 feminist leaders in Kolkata and 18 in Delhi were able to continue with their training to improve their understanding on gender issues, patriarchy, dealing with violence, etc. This will help them to support other women in their communities to go for driving as a job option or any other such non-traditional job. Understanding the nature of violence within the family and the legal and social redressal steps, prepares the feminist leaders to support others in their families and communities to live a violence-free life. 

Supporting them in this endeavor and in doing a fair share of unpaid care work are the 406 members of the Men for Gender Justice program across Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata and Indore. These young men have also taken a lead in vaccination campaigns in their communities. An assessment after two years of work amongst 360 young men in Delhi and Jaipur shows that about half of them have an increased understanding on gender issues and on the importance of consent in a relationship. About a third of them are giving a helping hand at home in unpaid care work. 

We are also working with 84 adolescent girls who are active leaders in their peer groups, families and communities. They take a lead in motivating their peers so that girls study further, delay their age at marriage, have a say in whom they marry and are ready to take up a job in a sector where women traditionally do not work. 

As a result of the support from these community change agents and our mobilisation efforts, we have reached out to 4360 women and enrolled 149 women for the Women with Wheels program to drive a 4-wheeler or to ride a 2-wheeler. 

Between Delhi & Kolkata, we were able to place 20 trained women drivers in the e-commerce segment.

One such woman is Jyoti who was felicitated by Flipkart (sometimes referred to as the Indian Amazon), her employer, for doing the maximum number of deliveries in one day. Jyoti got trained to ride a 2 -wheeler in the beginning of 2021 and joined Flipkart as a delivery executive in April. One day when her scooter broke down, she walked to make sure that she completed the deliveries assigned to her for the day. She needs the job to support her children and herself and will go to any lengths to ensure that she does her job to the best of her ability. 

It’s wonderful to see women inspiring women and creating a strong network of women non-traditional livelihood options. Appreciations from customers serves as a reaffirmation of the hard work, courage and determination of our women. 

Today, my groceries came with a huge packet of happiness for me! She was quick on her feet and wearing sports shoes. She was so efficient and full of energy. I could not stop smiling to see the change. I will keep ordering from bigbasket.com just to meet more women delivery agents in the future. In a segment that has traditionally been dominated by all male workforce, this was my first encounter with a woman in the last mile delivery and I was thrilled. More power to women in such jobs.”– Shruti, a customer

We provided 8029 safe rides across our four locations and placed 71 drivers as private chauffeurs with individual clients and private organizations. In Jaipur & Indore, we inducted 2 Electric cars each in our fleet as a move towards a more sustainable and responsible travel option. 

We are still not out of the woods, but we are hopeful that with the number of positive cases being down and more people getting vaccinated each day - the pandemic is on its way out. A big shout out to all our donors, supporters, customers and well-wishers without whom we would not have been able to come so far. THANK YOU! 

Our Annual Report 2020-21 is out now if you want to know more.

You can talk to us on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

YouTube

Jyoti Shaw being felicitated by Flipkart
Jyoti Shaw being felicitated by Flipkart
Women with Wheels
Women with Wheels
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Hope in times of crisis!

Despite the unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19, 2020 ended on a note of hope. Towards the end of the year, cases were down; news of the vaccine was uplifting; educational institutes, work-spaces and business were slowly limping back to normalcy. Azad and Sakha were able to keep our women trainees and drivers engaged and supported, and our work picked up slowly and steadily. In 2021, Azad and Sakha services started in full swing in all our locations Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Indore (Sakha) and Chennai. We celebrated International Women’s Day on 8th March, where Sakha shared the joy of being back in business by offering discounts on all rides booked that day along with a referral discount to promote Sakha services.

However, our happiness was short-lived as the second wave of COVID-19 arrived, taking us all by surprise. The second wave has been unprecedented not only because of the numbers of lives lost, but also because of the complete failure of government machinery in terms of health services and relief support.

With the surge in positive cases and deaths, each state introduced their own lockdown restrictions, keeping open only essential and emergency services. As transport was an essential service, we kept all our services open despite minimal business. We extended our services to include patients suffering from mild and moderate COVID-19 symptoms who were struggling to get local/private taxis, and to a range of clientele, including the elderly, pregnant women and people going for their vaccinations. All cabs met safety guidelines, including handy sanitizers, isolators, a properly kitted driver (mask, gloves, face shields, PPE Kits).

Stories of resilience from women driving the wheels of change in Kolkata

During this time of uncertainty and immense loss, our Sakha chauffeurs continued to do their duty diligently knowing fully the danger involved. We take a bow to all these brave women.

Since 1st March 2021, till date, we have provided close to 6500 safe rides across all our four locations.

On 19 May 2021, a call for a cab booking came in at 3.15 pm in Kolkata. It was a COVID patient who needed to visit her ailing COVID parents and get them hospitalized. It was a call of desperation. Within 15 minutes of the call, our driver Shankari Haldar reached the client’s place, ready in her PPE Kit, with the cab fully sanitized, all safety measures in place, and drove the client to her destination. At 9 pm, the same voice called back to inform that her grandfather had passed away in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Shankari drove the client’s mother multiple times and helped her see everything through for her father, including his last rites. The client thanked Sakha and Shankari profusely for making it possible for her mother to see her father (the client’s grandfather) the last time.

On 16 March 2021, a call for an airport pickup came in at 11.30 pm in Kolkata. The booking was for a senior citizen. Unfortunately, on the day of the pickup, the flight got delayed to 12.45 am.  Sakha driver Mitu Dey patiently waited, picked up the client and dropped her off safely at her house. Mitu reached home only at 1.45 am in the morning.

We remain committed but as the world stands still again we seek your support!

With business hitting rock bottom, we started the #NoTurningBack campaign once again to support our drivers. Through the campaign, we set up a helpline for our women drivers, trainees and their support systems. We initiated an assessment to understand their current system, organized weekly sessions with a qualified doctor to answer their questions on COVID-19, and conducted workshops with qualified counsellors to ensure their mental well-being. All drivers on duty have been provided with safety kits (PPE kits, N95 masks, regular masks, gloves, face shield and hand sanitizers) to ensure their safety as well as the safety of the clients. Till date, we have ensured uninterrupted salaries to all our Sakha commercial drivers across all locations. Every bit of donation to the #NoTurningBack campaign counts and it will ensure that these brave hearted women are able to tide through these difficult times. Your support will make a difference. Donate now to Azad Foundation: http://m-lp.co/azadfoun


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From Transport to Retail – a shift to stay relevant in the changing world of work!

“Be the change you wish to see” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

This quote finds deep resonance with the work we do – empowering Ambassadors of Change to be the change they wish to see. Having said this, this journey would not have been possible without YOU.

Last October, we had brought you an update on how Azad, with the support of generous donors like you, was able to provide multifaceted support like: food relief, access to information and support for Government social security schemes, support for survivors of gender-based violence, and sanitation and hygiene facilities to women trainees, chauffeurs, their families, and communities with which Azad works. We also shared how we had expanded to include 2-wheeler trainings so that women could avail of emerging opportunities on the e-commerce platform. This report will delve deeper on how this transition was enabled.

COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected the transportation and tourism sectors, both of which Azad directly works with. Tourism contributes to 10% of the GDP and 12.5% of job generation in the Indian economy. As many of us would agree, with each challenge comes an opportunity; in this case - the emerging E-commerce expansion and enhanced demand for online orders.

Azad Kolkata was a frontrunner in two-wheeler training, which began with women chauffeurs who had been previously working but had lost their jobs during the lockdown, or those women who were actively seeking a job. In keeping with the Azad ethos of engagement with trainees and their families, detailed discussions were held with the women and their families to ensure that they understood the job profiles, requirements, work-timings and the reason for this sudden shift from four-wheelers to two-wheelers.

The Training Process – learning hands on!

The training commences with twelve such chauffeurs and two women trainers. In order to maintain social distancing, enable trainees to attend trainings closer to their home in the absence of regular public transport post lockdown, trainers visited the house of each trainee to impart technical training whilst ensuring that COVID-19 hygiene and safety compliance was strictly adhered to. In keeping with the transformative, rights-based Skill ++ training that Azad follows, classes included empowerment modules, map- and GPS reading; gender & legal rights; self-development modules like English language and communication skills; these trainings were conducted virtually through small, online group meetings. As the job demanded knowledge and familiarity of English language, special focus was placed on the same thanks to the self-learning mobile application sourced in partnership with Quest Alliance, along with practice sessions using names of delivery items of the targeted e-commerce brands, sample invoices to identify names, and several rounds of mock –interviews with each trainee.

Market Negotiations-an important element in the ‘Big Picture’

In parallel to preparing trainees for the job market, an equal effort was applied to ensure dignified work conditions, along with social security and transportation facilities. While some e-commerce retailers provided electric vehicles, for others, Azad, along with its livelihood partner Sakha, had to ensure that adequate investments were raised to purchase electric two wheelers.

The Impact-

Through this ongoing rigorous process that panned out between August 2020 – Jan 2021, with Kolkata, Delhi has also joined in the efforts to train women on two wheelers and a total of 41 women (28 in Kolkata, 13 Delhi)women have been placed with the retail majors, till now. Currently, 30 more women are still undergoing training as part of this 3-month long training program which is being institutionalized within Women With Wheels. Do view the accompanying video that captures this transition, and voices of our new delivery executives.

Two-Wheeler Training in Kolkata

Big Basket delivery executives with their new E-Scooties

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Organization Information

Azad Foundation

Location: New Delhi, Delhi - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FoundationAzad
Project Leader:
Veronika Miskech Fricova
New Delhi, Delhi India
$60,681 raised of $75,000 goal
 
590 donations
$14,319 to go
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