A plethora of green and pink E-rickshaws adorned with smiles greet visitors on the Statue of Unity complex in Kevadiya, Gujarat. The Statue of Unity complex has 60 vehicles that transport visitors on a 10-minute journey to the imposing monument in which Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stands tall — and really tall, as it is the highest statue anywhere in the world.

For women in Kevadiya the pink e-rickshaws are a symbol of three things which are power, potential and potential. Their fact that they had to go through a rigorous , one-month-long training and then passed an exam to obtain their driving licenses mean an enormous amount to them.

The majority of women were introduced to the program through “anganwadi projects” in their own areas. They were taught by their local Ektanagar Training and Development Centre. One of the most important motivations for them was the desire that they could “make a difference.”

Nimisha is a charming enthusiastic, confident and cheerful driver, proudly proclaims that she “is an atmanirbhar woman” today. Not only does she have the opportunity to increase the household’s finances, she feels that this opportunity has added a new perspective for the quality of her “professional and personal life.” Nowadays, these drivers are happy that they’re not financially dependent and can have an increased voice in family issues.

Sumitra is another driver who describes how e-rickshaws of today “symbolise a new way of life for them”. In the lease arrangement they must deposit the equivalent of Rs 700 during weekdays and Rs 900 during the weekend to the organization that offers them the cars.

Anything they earn over the amount of money is what they earn since charging is free. For the majority of women in the area, their average daily earnings are anywhere from $1,000-$1,400. It is significantly higher during holidays and weekends as the number of tourists grows.

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Tourists are equally attracted by these e-rickshaws in pink. One among them Raadhha Kundu says “The assortment of pink autos driven by women was an unexpected delight. It’s wonderful to see women confident and self-sufficient… This is what is happening to women.”

Another driver, Joyeeta Purakayasta adds, “Whenever I see a girl who comes from a background which has struggle, I imagine family members encouraged to lead a more fulfilling life. This Statue of Unity paints a new image of empowerment through an enormous Green Dot.” Haimanti Ganguly agreed, “I think there’s a particular emotion that is triggered within us whenever we see the woman driving an automobile. It’s always an overwhelming feeling of pride that I cannot resist the smile.”

The area has been transformed into one of the first “electric zone for vehicles only’ with women sitting driving the vehicle. Patel is likely to have been a fan of this new arrangement regardless of his statue looming over the surrounding landscape. Women who have been a victim of an oppressive system of patriarchy the change is more than just a welcome change.

It is in this setting it is in that context International Women’s Day becomes even more important for these unnoticed heroes who are now making a name for themselves in what is viewed as an area that is dominated by males. In places like Maharashtra in which women drivers of autorickshaws are now a regular appearance, it’s not an easy task to navigate the midst of a place where men are calling the shots. The good news is the fact that people’s attitudes have changed but that it will take time.


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