Shanno Begum is New Delhi's first female Uber driver. Having no education qualifications to back her, she was left with little to no means to survive when her husband passed away. Shanno, a mother of three, struggled in different jobs to sustain her family before working towards getting a job as a driver. She was faced with a lot of questions, the common one being about taking up a profession which has been stereotyped as being for men. However, her determination to care for her children motivated her to reach where she has today.
After her husband passed away, Shanno first took up a job at a vegetable kiosk. Realising that the money would never be sufficient to feed her family as well as give them an education, she then took up a job in patient care. Her job required her to do work very similar to a nurse's, but she did not have the title. Her earnings were still not enough so she decided to cook in different households on people's suggestions. Her income was about Rs 6,000 a month, naturally insufficient for the future she envisioned for her family.
She then came to know of an NGO named Azad Foundation that worked on the empowerment of underprivileged women. The foundation offered a six-month driving course for women who had passed the 10th standard. Given that she had not cleared the required grade, she decided to devote her time to clearing the examination at the age of 40. She studied during the night and continued her work during the day. She cleared her exams in two years and then learned how to drive. While talking to India Today, she said,
I trained with the foundation for six months, during which time they also taught us how to read maps, besides a few self-defence techniques.
She earlier worked at Aaj Tak and Indigo Airlines before finally joining Uber. This was a beginning of the comfortable life she had always desired for her family. While talking to India Today, she said,
My daughter is now studying at IGNOU and my son is in a private school, studying in class 10. If not much, the least a Rs 12,000/week income can provide is quality education, so my kids can learn to discover their own skill set someday.
She defied all odds and beat all struggles in her life with her determination and dedication. Along the way, she also broke the stereotypes about driving being a profession for men. Her strong will and her attitude towards life is surely an example for us all.
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