Female taxi drivers find their way in ‘man’s job’

Female taxi drivers find their way in ‘man’s job’

Çağla Pınar Tunçel ISTANBUL Hürriyet Daily News
Female taxi drivers find their way in ‘man’s job’

Driving a taxi need no longer be seen as just a “man’s job” thanks to a project that aims to provide job opportunities for unemployed women in non-traditional sectors across Turkey.

“We are trying to kill the prejudice that says ‘women are bad drivers,’” Yahya Çark, an official at ACTUS, a private consultancy that began the project to provide employment for jobless women in fields such as driving taxis, told the Hürriyet Daily News on Monday.

Emphasizing that Turkey had fallen behind European Union standards in terms of women’s employment, ACTUS General Manager Pelin Akman said Turkey was now beginning to train people in jobs that had traditionally been viewed as the sole purview of men. “We want to prove that these jobs can also be done properly by women,” Akman told the Daily News. Mehmet Yanıkdağ, an official from a taxi stand in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district that is used by the female drivers, told the Daily News that customers were very happy to see women behind the wheel, adding that some even preferred to have a female driver.

Safe working environment

Customers are pleased by the idea of getting into a cab that smells like perfume rather than cigarette smoke, one of the female cab drivers, 37-year-old Vildan İstanbul, told the Daily News, adding that she was working as a manager in a drug company until it went bankrupt.

“[Then one day] I saw a woman driving a taxi; I gave the thumbs up to her and she stopped the car and asked me whether I wanted a job or not,” İstanbul said. “I’m a single mother who has to take care of a 15-year-old daughter, I don’t care whether people compare my job with my previous profession; as long as I feel safe and get respect, I will continue my duty.”

The cab driver said they only received minimum wage but added that there would soon be opportunities for a raise.

Unemployed women can inquire about the project, which was established by the Istanbul Taxi Drivers Tradesmen’s Association, or İTEO, and the Labor and Social Security Ministry in conjunction with ACTUS, by contacting a special call center.

“Many women have called the company but they need more courage; some changed their minds before visiting here, yet everything is under control,” said İstanbul, adding that they only accepted customers from their station and did not work night shifts.

Ten women started working in Istanbul as drivers on Sept. 17, Akman said, adding that the project would eventually encompass the whole country.

Çark also said 13 women had also been hired as painters in Istanbul as part of the project.