Meter Down: A Journey With A Woman Taxi Driver in Rural Pune

About the Video: If you find yourself looking to hail a taxi in the quaint temple town of Jejuri in Pune District, ask for Ranjana Chawan. She is in her early 30s, a proud mother of two who got married off early as is custom in her region and her biggest regret about it remains that it severely cut short her education. Then, she says, fate and circumstances brought her to a crossroad where she made the choice of taking up an unlikely profession. She became a rare woman in the male-dominated domain of public transport in rural India.

The taxi belongs to her husband but as he kept spiralling down the rabbit hole of alcohol addiction, Ranjana took over the driver’s seat. She plies her four-wheeler down the potholed winding roads around Jejuri ferrying her passengers to their destinations and back. It’s a hard days living but she’s happy with what it gets her. It keeps the stoves burning, her children go to school and the household is running efficiently.

She is proud and content and wishes for just two things - that the traffic department forego her lack of education and finally recognize her right to drive and earn a livelihood. And grant her the licence that she has been trying for.  And that her husband would quit his addiction.

Community Correspondent Says: Video Volunteers’ Community Correspondent Rohini was visiting her village when she happened to hail Ranjana’s taxi. Rohini is in her early 30s, a proud mother and her early marriage had cut short her education. Most importantly, Rohini has always been a working woman - first as a field labourer, then as a worker in a pharmaceutical factory and also as an assistant to her videographer husband.  The two self made woman bonded on the journey and by the end of it, Rohini found herself making a video on Ranjana.

“She is a fantastic woman,” says Rohini. “In fact she is one of the bravest women I have met. Just like the camera has empowered me, the taxi has brought Ranjana out of her household, into the world and empowered her.”

“The policemen of the region know her and her situation so they are not fining her but she would be so much more secure if she had a licence. The Road Transport Rules say that you have to pass the 10th grade to be eligible for a licence which is what prevents her from getting one. But Ranjana is a great driver. Travelling in rural India is very stressful for women with all the eve teasing and unsavory that goes on  but travelling with Ranjana is the safest I have felt. It was bliss.”

Call to Action: Rohini asks how we can help Ranjana get a license. If you know of any options we can explore please get in touch with us at info@videovolunteers.org and put “Ranjana” in the subject.

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