How sexist cities are preventing women from entering India’s gig economy

In major cities like Mumbai, men’s public toilets outnumber women’s by 25 to one, a stark divide that prevents many female workers from considering jobs as delivery agents or taxi drivers. Experts tell Vishwam Sankaran this is because women are still being excluded from the city planning process

Sunday 15 May 2022 15:55
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<p>Vennapusa Narayanamma, known as ‘Auto Rani’, in Hyderabad, southern India </p>

Vennapusa Narayanamma, known as ‘Auto Rani’, in Hyderabad, southern India

Vennapusa Narayanamma is nothing short of a celebrity in Nizampet, a satellite city on the outskirts of Hyderabad in southern India. Dubbed the “Auto Rani” (“rani” meaning “queen”), she was one of the first women ever to obtain an auto-rickshaw driver’s licence in the city.

That was about 15 years ago – yet today, in a city that has more than 100,000 three-wheeled taxis, Narayanamma remains just one of only eight female rickshaw drivers, according to sociologist Sneha Annavarapu.

While the boom in ride-hailing apps like Uber and India’s own Ola has seen more and more people enter the driving economy in the city, hardly any women take up the profession. And although this is due to a number of factors, one of the main reasons is the lack of accessibility to women’s public toilets, Narayanamma tells The Independent.

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