- Title: Women join taxi service as drivers in Pakistan
- Date: 7th December 2016
- Summary: SCREEN OF MOBILE PHONE WITH REPLY THAT READS (English): "ON MY WAY"
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2016 10:16
- Keywords: women drivers Pakistan taxi cab service
- Location: KARACHI/ LAHORE, PAKISTAN
- City: KARACHI/ LAHORE, PAKISTAN
- Country: Pakistan
- Reuters ID: LVA0025BVW4ZP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Aasia Abdul Aziz, a 46-year-old widow in Karachi who has two grown-up daughters, has joined a taxi service that previously only hired male drivers.
In Pakistan, cab drivers are mostly male, and the profession is not seen to be viable for women in the conservative country where women account for only 22 percent of the workforce.
But Careem, a multinational transportation network company which launched a new fleet of seven taxi drivers in Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore on Wednesday (December 7), is aiming to change that mentality and give women an additional source of income.
While the fleet so far is small, Careem says dozens of applicants are on the waiting list to be trained on the service that operates on app-based booking.
"This is a respectable job. If you have your own car, you can do this job during the spare time that you have, when your children are out. In my opinion, it is not only a means of income, it is also a respectable way of earning a living," said Aziz who dropped off several passengers during a trial run in Karachi on Tuesday (December 6).
The women taxi drivers are required to have their own car, but are given flexible working hours.
The service was met with approval from a regular Careem user, Mir Raza Mohammad, a pharmaceutical manager, who said he was surprised to see a female driver pulling up at next to his building.
"If women can drive their personal vehicles, they can do it on a commercial basis also and people will appreciate it, because they have come out of their houses and are driving their vehicles as a respectable source of income for the futures of their children. If they are utilizing their vehicles in this way, there is nothing wrong about that and people will appreciate it," he said.
While met with approval by men, Aziz said she would like to start with female passengers first to "get comfortable" before taking on male passengers.
Launched in Dubai, Careem has become a basic tool for those in need of transportation in 44 cities across 10 countries. It now claims over 6 million registered users in just about four years.
"Fifty one percent of the population in Pakistan comprises of females. We are a big believer in terms of women empowerment, and we want to give women the same opportunities and the same chance that men have of leveraging our platform to generate healthy income. And I think it's a great opportunity for females across Pakistan," Ahmed Usman, General Manager Careem Lahore, said.
Careem started operating in the Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore in October 2015 and later began service in the capital Islamabad.
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