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Kerala Driver Breaks Gender Stereotypes by Becoming 'First' Woman to Drive a Fuel Tanker

Representative Image.

Representative Image.

A young woman in Kerala is breaking the gender ceiling by being the 'only' female to drive a fuel tanker.

Delisha Davis of Kandassankadavu in Thrissur turned a star after an official from the motor vehicle department stopped her vehicle. The 23-year-old woman was driving a tanker, transporting fuel from Hindustan Petroleum’s LPG Plant at Irumpanam in Ernakulam to a petrol pump in Tirur, Malappuram district. The official was surprised when she showed her licence to carry hazardous goods and explained during each trip, she covers around 280km.

Usually, vehicles carrying fuel are not stopped by motor vehicle inspectors as it is an essential commodity. However, in this case, seeing a woman behind the wheels supposedly intrigued the officials. The MVD officials expressed their excitement at the sight and promoted the incident on social media as ‘her story would be a motivation to women who are afraid of driving’.

“The official said, in all probability, I would be the only woman who has a licence to carry hazardous goods. But my real surprise was that no one has noticed me in the tanker for the past three years. Even my friends did not believe when someone near my home told them that I drive a fuel tanker," Delisha told News18.

A postgraduate student in commerce, Delisha’s driving instructor was her father, Davis PV. “Though two of my sisters have no interest, I was passionate about vehicles and driving since childhood. Hence, I jumped at the opportunity as my father suggested if I would accompany him on his daily trips. Gradually, I got interested in driving the tanker. Now, driving is my passion and Appa (dad) supported me completely. Otherwise, this would not have been possible. I am not sure whether there is any other woman in Kerala who has the licence to drive a hazardous vehicle" she said.

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Delisha learned to drive at the age of 16 and acquired a heavy and hazardous licence at the age of 20.

Now, her father accompanies her as the helper as the vehicle needs two persons. “My day starts at 2 am. From home, we drive to Irumbanam at 4 am. Our trip to Tirur with the load starts at 9 am. After unloading the fuel, we return home by around 4 pm. Then I attend my classes in the evening batch. My dream is to drive a multi-axle Volvo bus. I am trying to get its licence. It’s only in Banglore and wants to attend its classes after lockdown," Delisha said stating that due to the lockdown, the number of trips has reduced to three weekly.

According to Delisha, the reason for less number of women in this profession is their social conditioning on ‘What will others think’.

“Driving gives me confidence and courage. When I started driving, I was often being laughed at. However, I was least bothered about that. Don’t think of what others think of you. If you are doing the right thing, you can proceed in your path bravely," she added.

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first published:June 14, 2021, 18:18 IST