What everyday freedom means to three women drivers and a transgender food delivery driver


What everyday freedom means to three women drivers and a transgender food delivery driver

Here are their inspiring stories

By Manali Shah  August 14th, 2019

Freedom is invaluable—and financial independence all the more so. It leads to greater power, more choices and enables greater mobility. This independence day, we spoke to three women driver-partners with Uber and a transgender food delivery driver-partner with UberEATS, who turned their life around by taking up a job. They’re their own boss, set their own work hours and are living life on their own terms.

Here are their inspiring stories:

Gulesh Chauhan, New Delhi

One of Uber’s highest-rated driver-partners

What prompted you to take up driving Uber as a profession?

After my husband passed away 16 years ago, times were were tough. I was the sole breadwinner of the family and had a cancer-struck mother and an 18-year-old son to take care of. I really needed a job. My son encouraged me to join Uber as a driver-partner; I was completely unaware about the platform. As a woman, I was quite hesitant to join but my son and mother supported me.

I will not deny that at times, people find it strange and unconventional to see a for woman-driver, but there have also been many who have been most appreciative. Earlier, I was even hesitant to go fill CNG for my car because my male counterparts would often pass negative comments, but over time, I have become more confident. Furthermore, I’m seeing a gradual shift in people’s perception—be it from passengers or male driver-partners.

What kind of reactions do you normally get from passengers?

Initially, I felt very shy driving around, but over time I have become very confident. Riders are often surprised when they see me behind the wheel. Some are not happy, while others are excited.

What does everyday freedom mean to you?

Freedom of work is of the utmost importance to me. I get up at four every morning and set my goals for the day. Uber gives me an opportunity to take charge of my decisions. It is completely up to me pick my work hours.

How has being financially independent changed your life? What kind of barriers or stereotypes would you like to break in the future?

Now that I am earning independently, I can proudly help my mother who is a cancer patient and my mother-in-law who suffers from certain health issues. Moreover, I have funded my child’s education all by myself. The one thing I don’t like is to beg people and I would urge all the citizens to work. Women across the country are taking up responsibilities that are perceived to be men’s. We are breaking stereotypes and pushing boundaries everyday with our zeal and confidence.

Preetisha, Chennai

India’s first transgender delivery partner with UberEATS.

What prompted you to take up riding with Uber Eats as a food delivery partner for a profession?

By the time I began working for Uber, I had almost exhausted my search for a job. Earning a monthly income is a basic necessity and back then, Uber was the only company willing to treat me equally and offer me a job.

Being a theatre artist, I cannot afford to rely on consistent roles in movies and plays, and therefore, I am forced to consider alternative income options. Uber is the most convenient job role with my daily routine, as I have the power to pick my work hours.

What kind of reactions do you normally get from customers?

Customers do not usually have the time and space to observe and have a reaction. However, I do spend most of my time waiting near restaurants to receive orders.

A restaurant in the area I live in, is where I received my first order from, and continue to begin my day from, even today. I have spent days and hours waiting around for orders and that has led to conversations with the restaurant partners. Not having revealed much on the personal front, I recently asked a partner if he knew who I was. It said with pride that he had read articles about me. When asked why he hadn’t mentioned anything before, he simply said, “There is nothing to say. I am taken by surprise with the respectable lifestyle you are able to lead and if anything, I would be honoured to contribute to and support your journey.”

What does everyday freedom mean to you?

Freedom to me is to be able to lead the life of a respected individual in the society and be treated with equality. Today, I receive that respect and understanding from the society, but the government has a long way to go. Having been married for over a year, it has been extremely challenging to obtain my marriage certificate from the court. Their reasoning was that the society wouldn’t approve of such a relationship, but I feel grateful to be able to rest my case against that. I live in a large society with my partner, where disagreements with the housing association are around only regular issues.

How has being financially independent changed your life? What kind of barriers or stereotypes would you like to break in the future?

Being financially independent has helped me lead a life today that I imagined once upon a time to be impossible. I have the privilege of a regular member of the society, of paying house rent. I also recently took my first-ever trip with my partner, ever since our marriage. I wish for other transgender people out there to receive the kind of opportunities I have received and lead the life that I am leading today… to not have the false impression that prostitution and begging are the only means of earning your daily bread and butter. This requires the government to create more jobs for trans people.

Suganthi, Bengaluru

Uber’s five-star rated driver-partner

What promoted you to take up driving Uber as a profession?

My husband became a driver-partner with Uber 11 months ago, right after he quit his government job. Soon after, he encouraged me to become a driver-partner as well. It’s been around 10 months since I started driving and I absolutely love and enjoy my job. I previously owned a business and have always liked driving but when I first signed up for the job, I was nervous and scared because I didn’t know the routes and how any of it worked. At that time, I turned to my family and they helped me understand how it all worked. This eased my self-doubts and I immediately began driving, and my husband and I haven’t looked back ever since.

What kind of reactions do you normally get from passengers?

Many passengers have told me that that they haven’t seen a lot of female drivers in Bengaluru. And a lot of the female passengers I drive around have also told me that I give them confidence and that they feel great travelling with me. I am proud of my 4.95 rating. I have gotten nothing but words and acts of support and encouragement from all riders. I distinctly remember one of my favourite compliments by a customer: “You are teaching women to be independent and improving Bengaluru by being such a confident woman and driver-partner.” Passengers that have come to visit Bengaluru from other cities, states and countries have taken selfies with me and put them up on their social media stating how proud and happy they are of my work.

What does everyday freedom mean to you?

For me, freedom means my family. I begin my driving at 9am and my last drop for the day is usually at 7pm. Even though I work for 10 hours a day, going home to a lovely family and spending time with them makes me feel secure and free.

How has being financially independent changed your life? What kind of barriers or stereotypes would you like to break in the future?

Five years ago, I had a business that went into a loss. At the time, I had no one to help me but my family never left my side. They shared my joy and my grief. My eldest son supported me by working part-time after his college hours and my husband believed in my abilities. I want to show women that they should never lose hope no matter what. They should always keep their chin up and believe that life will take them in the right direction. I want women to keep pushing forward and take leaps until they get where they want to be.

What keeps you motivated to pursue your goals?

Other women driver-partners have told me that I make them feel secure and I always encourage more women to become driver-partners at Uber. I love being on the platform and it empowers me to know that I don’t have to rely on anyone else to fulfil my goals. What truly drives me is that I want a good name at Uber someday. I want everyone to know who I am and I want to be a role model to not just other women drivers at Uber, but also to women in general.

Rukhmini, New Delhi

Driver-partner with Uber

What promoted you to take up driving Uber as a profession?

Coming onboard with Uber was never a thought that came to my mind. I have been driving since a very long time. I started my career as a driver at the airport, pulling 12 hour shifts every day. After a while, it became quite hectic for me because as a woman, I not only have to earn money for my family, but also have other responsibilities. The working hours had become very difficult. I had a friend who was associated with Uber, and she guided me to register myself with Uber. It definitely seemed a much better option as you can set your own working hours. The entrepreneurial option provided by Uber was a great option for someone like me.

What kind of reactions do you normally get from passengers?

I drive a hatchback that I’ve earned myself and I’m very happy about that fact. The kinds of reactions I encounter on an everyday basis is extremely overwhelming. I have encountered both male and female riders and to my surprise, they have been quite supportive of the fact that more and more women are being associated with Uber. I have had days when riders feel that they have contacted the wrong number when they call and ask for my location. They cut the call initially, and upon realisation of the situation, they call me back in a happy tone. Many of them have also clicked pictures with me, as they say that it’s the first time they have sat with a lady driver.

What does everyday freedom mean to you?

For women, freedom is very important, as we not only have to earn for ourselves but for our family as well. I have to fund my child’s education too. According to me, we still haven’t reached the pinnacle, there’s a long way to go. I don’t drive at night as I feel I may encounter riders who are drunk because after all,when they get in my car, they become my responsibility. I drive from 8am till 6pm everyday and am financially self-sufficient.

How has being financially independent changed your life? What kind of barriers or stereotypes would you like to break in the future?

Earlier, when I used to work under a boss, I was extremely sad and I thought I needed more time and money for myself. But since the past year, it has been going really well. The one thing I like is that now I’m not bound by anyone above me. My job took a toll on me and now working by myself has given me an actual sense of freedom.

What keeps you motivated to pursue your goals?

I always have strived to start my day early and get as many rides as possible. My goal is to see a huge banner of mine with Uber in the future. Everything I do is so that my son does not face any problems with his studies.