The Women Behind the Wheel
In March 2018, ten women from different backgrounds and age groups came together with one common goal – to get behind the wheel and learn how to drive.
This initiative is the pilot project of 6° Academy for Women, whose objective is to train 10 women to learn how to drive and assist them finding employment as drivers or chauffeurs. In Nepal, it’s not common to see professional women drivers on the road and this is fast gaining popularity as a career, attracting more women to take up the skill.
Which is why when 6° Academy spread word of the upcoming drivers training via Ashim (our on-the-ground project manager from our local partner organization New Sadle) 21 women expressed interest! As the training could only accommodate 10 candidates, Ashim was tasked with shortlisting the final cohort. Along with a personal interview held at New Sadle, the candidates were selected using the following criteria:
- Education – each candidate must have completed secondary education / Grade 10
- Motivation to learn a new skill and desire to change their life
- Adverse family background/financial situation
Getting to the final 10 wasn’t easy as one of the finalized candidates withdrew from the process due to health concerns and two others withdrew for reasons unknown, but the group eventually came together - eager to commence training.
The candidates for the pilot course hail from 5 different districts in Nepal (there are 77 districts in total) and are keen to learn a skill that will increase their chances of finding employment, gain financial independence and improve their quality of life. Most of them also support their families financially, and the youngest candidate is 16 years old.
Driving lessons and health & safety training is underway and the women are excited to get their driving license on passing the practical and theory exams. Seven students have completed training and are expected to pass exams and have their license in August, whilst the remaining three are expected to complete training by end June 2018 and complete the certification by September 2018.
6° Academy also offers the students an English language course, so they are able to communicate not only with domestic but also with international clients.
So let’s put the spotlight on the women themselves and learn more about them.
Sapana Maya Tamang
I am Sapana Maya Tamang. I come from Nuwakot, Trishuli. I live with my mother and she runs a small hotel which supports our livelihood. I chose driving primarily because I want to improve my family’s living conditions. Through driving, I plan to uplift my business standards. I also want to help other people through driving.
Sabina Pulami Magar
My name is Sabina Pulami Magar and I live in Sukhedara, Nepal. My family depends on agriculture and animal husbandry for income, but this is insufficient for us. I chose to learn driving because I can take lessons in my spare time and this will eventually help me to be independent and support my family. I also want to contribute to society and my nation.
I live in Indrawati, Nepal with my grandparents, parents and older brother who is also a driver. I believe that all occupations are equal and my family is supportive of me. I am studying to be an Agriculture Technician (a CTEVT course) but very interested in learning to drive as it will later enable me to be involved in different projects and field work which I am very interested to do.
Satya Devi Pulami Magar
I come from the Nuwakot district. I come from a middle class family and we are able to fulfill our basic needs. I believe that each one of us has interests and passions about different things. I am very interested in driving and it is my dream to become a successful driver and help my society and nation. My plan for the future is to live a well-settled life by taking up driving as occupation.
I come from Sipa Pokhari, Nepal. My family consists of my mother, elder brother, sister-in-law and two young brothers. My father passed away. My mother runs a grocery store at home and stays with my grandmother. My elder brother and his wife run a hotel. My two brothers are both drivers. My family is supportive and they paid for my education, but I also want to earn an income and support my family as well.
I believe it is important to have different skills as what we learn plays a major role in shaping our lives. For a long time I have been interested in learning to drive and I am confident in my driving skills and I believe that I can do better than others. I want to continue my studies and find a job after the training is over.
Mira Thapa Chhetri
I am 27 years old and a single mother. I have a 7 year-old son and a 5 year-old daughter. In the past I used to run a beauty salon. My family never allowed me to drive as it was considered a man's job. But now circumstances have changed, and I can do what I want. I’m currently getting a divorce from my husband who left us 4 years ago after treating us poorly. I’m now living with my parents together with my children.
I want to learn driving, be self-sustainable and support my children. I aim to buy my own vehicle in the future.
I am 24 years old and come from Dolalghat , Kavrepalanchowk. I live with my mother and two siblings. My mother used to work as a maid in other people’s homes but is old now and has stopped working. My father is an alcoholic and has abandoned us however, he still demands money from us. He physically abuses my mother and us. I was even hospitalised once as he hit me severely.
I am the sole breadwinner of the family and currently work as a salesgirl in a wholesale shop for doormats and carpets. I earn a monthly salary of NPR 9000 (approx. 71 Euro). With the help of the driving training, I hope to turn my life around and make life better for my mother.
I am 20 years old and in final year of Bachelor of Arts (BA). I live with my mother, father and two elder brothers. My mother is a housewife and my dad works as a security guard. My eldest brother is studying to be a lab technician and younger brother is a driver at a reconstruction project. My family is very supportive of me.
I have worked as a social mobiliser in a sanitation project for 18 months and used to visit different places in my village and run awareness campaigns. I want to learn to drive so that I can be independent and self-reliant as I think we should not be totally dependent on our families to do everything for us. I hope to find a good job after I learn driving.
Renu Maya Bomjan
I am 16 years old and come from Trishuli in Nuwakot district. I would say that my family condition is not that good right now – we are not living together. My dad and mom live separately and my younger brothers are living with my grandparents at the village. My older sister and I live with my maternal uncle so that we can go to school. It will take some time to accommodate everyone in one place. I want to learn how to drive so that I can work and fulfil my parent’s wishes.