Thirty-Five-year-old Ankita Shah has become Ahmedabad’s First specially-abled woman auto rickshaw driver. Shattering all gender stereotypes and societal norms, Ankita decided to enter this male-dominated field. Shunning a desk job at a call centre, Ankita has been driving auto-rickshaw for six months to contribute to her father’s intestinal cancer treatment.

Facing Hardships and Discrimination

Ankita is a Bachelors Economics graduate from Ahmedabad, she is the eldest among her five siblings.  She and her family hail from in Palitana, a town in Gujarat. At an early age, her leg was amputated because of polio.  After facing discrimination and marginalisation, Ankita migrated from Palitana to Ahmedabad in 2012 to find a livelihood and sustain her family.

In Palitana, she was offered a job as a clerk at a local girl’s high school. But even after working for 10 months she never got paid she said.

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Constantly Bearing Struggles and Facing Rejection

After relocating to Ahmedabad in 2012, Ankita began searching for work in various sectors to financially support her family. She shared her experience of working in a call centre, to TOI, “I used to barely make Rs 12,000 working a 12-hour shift at the call centre. Moreover, after my father was diagnosed with intestine cancer, I constantly had to shuffle between Ahmedabad and Surat for his treatment and getting frequent leaves was a problem. The income wasn’t enough I decided to call quits.’’

“I used to barely make Rs 12,000 working a 12-hour shift at the call centre.”

Despite trying to find jobs at private companies, Ankita faced a lot of hardships in finding stable employment because her employers would be concerned about her disability hindering her work. ”I was feeling all the more guilty because I couldn’t contribute anything for my father’s treatment,”  she added. Ankita finally decided to do something on her own.

Ab Aur Kisi ki gulaami Nahi Karni thi (I no longer wanted to serve anyone anymore),’’ said the girl who supports a family of seven members.

Inspiring Journey of Ahmedabad’s first specially-abled woman auto driver

When the idea of driving auto-rickshaw struck Ankita, her family initially disapproved it. Ankita was determined to pay for her father’s financial treatment and elevate her family’s financial status. She was taught to ride an auto by Lalji Barot, a friend and fellow auto driver who is also physically challenged. He also helped Ankita find a customised auto-rickshaw with hand-operated brakes.

Today Ankita makes up to Rs 20,000 every month. “It is much better because there is no work pressure. I can also visit my family and help with my dad’s treatment.’’

She claims she still has to face the bias of being a female driver while driving on the roads. However, she doesn’t feel demotivated. She hopes to start her own taxi business someday in the future.

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Image Credits: TOI

Gaurika Taneja is an intern with SheThePeople.Tv

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