In 2015, the state transport department in Maharashtra allowed a 5 percent reservation in permits for auto rickshaws for women. Many videos and photographs of these women drivers were at that time shared by news and social media platforms.
And now, a retweet by Richa Chadha has brought the internet's attention back to these 'sheroes'.
Originally posted by a handle called @QTalker, the post contains a picture of a woman driving an auto in Mumbai. The caption said that the woman doubled as a house cleaner and also drove an auto to earn a living.
Many people reacted to the video, one of the first being actress Richa Chadha who gained fame after her powerhouse performance in films like Gangs of Wasseypur and Fukrey.
Women empowerment 👍🏻— KITZY கிட்சி کِٹزی किट्ज़ी (@WittyKittyVixxy) January 18, 2019
Some ladies have to really work hard, probably because their husbands are rotters.— capt ranjit dhir (@sonyadhir) January 18, 2019
In November 2015, the Maharastra transport department allocated 5 percent auto-rickshaw permits for women drivers under a lottery system to increase female representation in a highly male-dominated sector. By February 2016, authorities decidedto relax qualification criteria for women drivers to raise the number of women applying for the quota.
Previously, the requisite qualification for applying for an auto permit required the applicant to have a badge and a commercial driving license. They also needed to be Class 10 graduates and have one year's experience driving a non-transport vehicle. These rules were relaxed to increase participation of women.
In 2016 itself, 465 permits were issued. The women driven autos were chosen to be orange in colour.
However, several media houses reported in 2018 that the quota remained unfulfilled. Additionally, many women who were driving orange autos, requested for them to be painted orange again so that they could rent it out to male drivers.
Many women drivers complained of health and safety issues and also said that it was hard for them to maintain the driving job after performing their home responsibilities and roles.