- Title: Rabat's only woman taxi driver busts stereotypes
- Date: 28th September 2021
- Summary: RABAT, MOROCCO (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FEMALE MOROCCAN TAXI DRIVER, SOUAD HDIDOU, MAKING BREAKFAST IN KITCHEN VARIOUS OF HDIDOU HAVING BREAKFAST HDIDOU HOLDING BAG AND KEYS, OPENING THE HOUSE'S DOOR AND LEAVING VARIOUS OF HDIDOU CHECKING HER TAXI CAR HDIDOU GETTING IN TAXI HDIDOU SHIFTING GEAR (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FEMALE MOROCCAN TAXI DRIVER, SOUAD HDIDOU, SAYING: (SOUNDBITE SHOWING HDIDOU DRIVING) "How I chose this profession did not come by chance because I'm the kind who likes a challenge. It started when I was with a company specializing in distributing fish in Morocco, and I was working with them, distributing by truck across Morocco. And then I went to work a taxi." VARIOUS OF TAXIS ON STREETS NEXT TO CARS AND TRAMS MAN PAYING HDIDOU FEMALE PASSENGER GETTING INTO TAXI WITH HDIDOU VARIOUS OF HDIDOU CHATTING WITH HER FEMALE PASSENGER WHILE DRIVING VARIOUS OF HDIDOU PARKING TAXI VARIOUS OF HDIDOU SPEAKING WITH OTHER MALE TAXI DRIVERS ON ROADSIDE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) MALE TAXI DRIVER AND MEMBER OF THE TAXI DRIVERS UNION, MOHAMED NWINI, SAYING: "Thank God, this profession is very hard for men and not easy. You ride 24 hours sitting on a chair, day after day. Your whole body works. It is not an easy thing, but we received her (referring to Souad Hdidou) with joy and pleasure. We were honoured (that she joined this field) and she was a unique addition to this field of taxi driving. And when we knew our sister Souad was working with us, we respected her a lot." HDIDOU TAKING ON PASSENGERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FEMALE MOROCCAN TAXI DRIVER, SOUAD HDIDOU, SAYING: (SOUNDBITE SHOWING HDIDOU DRIVING) "I hope that we can have some rights as taxi drivers. We have no rights at all. We do not have health coverage, papers or anything. I wish the new government can regulate this sector, this unstructured sector." DRIVING SHOT THROUGH STREETS HDIDOU SHIFTING GEAR (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FEMALE PASSENGER WITH SOUAD HDIDOU, NOUHILA ASAH, SAYING: "For me, I rode with Souad (Hdidou) many times and I am very comfortable while I am with her in the (taxi) car. I can talk to her like a Moroccan woman, unlike when I ride with a man, I am silent. I cannot talk to him or even speak on the phone with comfort. But with a woman, I am comfortable as if I am with my sister or my mother. So we need more women taxi drivers." HDIDOU SEEN IN MIRROR LOOKING ON VARIOUS OF TAXIS IN THE STREETS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FEMALE MOROCCAN TAXI DRIVER, SOUAD HDIDOU, SAYING: "God willing, in the future, I hope that I will not continue to drive a taxi. My wish is to work in international transport. This has been my dream since childhood. I am now in the process of getting different types of driving licenses and international transport. This is Souad's life." HDIDOU SEEN IN MIRROR LOOKING ON / HDIDOU DRIVING TAXIS AND TRAFFIC ON THE ROAD
- Embargoed: 12th October 2021 10:14
- Keywords: Driver Morocco Rabat Taxi Women
- Location: RABAT, MOROCCO
- City: RABAT, MOROCCO
- Country: Morocco
- Topics: Africa,Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001EWMUIQF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Souad Hdidou is challenging social norms and busting stereotypes from behind the wheel as the only female taxi driver in the Moroccan capital Rabat and one of a few in the country.
Hdidou, 33, started work as a truck driver after dropping out of school and worked for a fish distribution company, but switched to taxis for the better pay and greater freedom, she said.
"I'm the kind who likes challenges," Hdidou said.
She now earns enough to pay the mortgage on her flat near Rabat as well as supporting her family in the countryside and has built up a solid customer base.
At the wheel of her blue sedan, sparkling clean and fragrant inside, and a heart-shaped talisman with religious verses dangling from the rear view mirror, Hdidou is a rare sight on Rabat's roads.
"We need more women taxi drivers," said Nouhila Asah, a female client, adding that with Hdidou she can have a conversation and talk freely over the phone unlike when the driver is a man.
There used to be seven women licensed as taxi drivers in the capital, but they all stopped working except Hdidou. Female taxi drivers sometimes face sexual harassment in the form of unwanted advances, she said.
Even for men, the taxi business is tough in Morocco - most drivers have no access to state health and pension coverage, and want the government to reform the sector.
The taxi operating license is so costly that many "rent" it from well-off people who have the right connections. Hdidou said the cost of renting the license as well as car operating expenses account for up to 70% of her monthly revenue.
The head of the taxi drivers' union, Mohamed Touiti, said he hoped the government would give drivers access to state social security.
For Hdidou, she's taken a step towards fulfilling her childhood dream: "My wish is to work in international transport... I am now in the process of getting different types of driving licences and internal transport. This is Souad's life," she said, laughing.
(Production: Shereen Talaat, Hamuda Hassan, Nadeen Ebrahim)
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