THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Challenging the norms: Women turning taxi driving into an acceptable profession

JORDAN: Nisrin Akoubeh checks the oil and water before getting into her taxi and pulling into Amman’s heavy traffic for another day of shuttling fellow women across the Jordanian capital.

transportreligionculture
By AFP

Saturday 14 January 2017, 11:00AM


Jordan is relatively liberal in terms of women’s rights compared to other countries in the region, but not everyone is happy with the “Pink Taxis” driven by women. Photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP

Jordan is relatively liberal in terms of women’s rights compared to other countries in the region, but not everyone is happy with the “Pink Taxis” driven by women. Photo: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP

The red-haired mother of three works a gruelling 10-hour shift in her taxi – a rare occupation for a woman in this conservative Muslim society.

“I want to break the culture of shame and prove to Arabs and the Arab world that women are strong and are able to work in any area that could be monopolised by men,” she said.

“Women have been able to drive normal cars for a long time, so why shouldn’t they drive taxis?”

Akoubeh is one of a group of women who want to turn taxi driving into an acceptable profession for women, challenging Jordan’s social norms.

The 31-year-old widow and former nurse drives one of a fleet of 10 “Pink Taxis” driven by women ... for women passengers.

Most of their customers are nurses on late shifts, university students or mothers whose children they shuttle to and from nursery or school.

Wearing a pink shirt and blue tie as she navigates Amman’s congested roads, Akoubeh often also picks up visiting Saudi women whose husbands don’t allow them to ride unaccompanied with male taxi drivers.

“I thank God that I have lots of customers,” she said.

Ghena al-Asmar, a 19-year-old student who often uses the service, said she feels safer riding the women-only cars.

“When I finish my studies at university in the evening or when I leave the house at night, I prefer to take these taxis because it’s a woman taking a woman somewhere,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s any shame in a woman working as a taxi driver – it’s a profession like any other profession, and it shouldn’t be limited to men,” she said.

Around half a million women in Jordan have driving licences, about 20 per cent of the country’s total drivers, according to the national traffic department.

Akoubeh said some people give her encouragement but “there is always someone to remind me that ‘this is men’s work and you should be in the home.’”

Jordan is relatively liberal in terms of women’s rights compared to other countries in the region, such as Saudi Arabia which does not allow women behind the wheel at all.

But more conservative attitudes are still common.

Splash Beach Club

Mohammad al-Ahmad, a 50-year-old civil servant, said driving a taxi is not appropriate work for women.

“We live in a conservative Eastern society governed by tribal customs and traditions,” he said.

“There are lots of jobs and professions women can do that fit their abilities and preserve their place in society, without them being seen in a bad light.”

But Eid Abu al-Haj, head of an investment group behind a company that runs the Pink Taxi service, says encouraging women to drive is a service to society.

“Women are more careful and cause fewer accidents,” he said. “By providing these cars exclusively for women, we are hoping to give women more comfort and privacy.”

The service was launched on March 21, when most of the Arab world marks Mother’s Day.

“We started with five cars just for women, with women drivers, and now we have 10 drivers, between 30 and 45 years old, and we’re hoping to expand soon,” said Abu al-Haj.

The concept has already been tried and tested in Cairo, another conservative city where women taxi drivers were previously unheard of.

Akoubeh said she has a good salary, health insurance, social security and holidays, and she can choose what hours to work.

Other taxi drivers in Amman say they take home at most 25 dinars (B1,246) a day after paying a share of their takings to the companies that own the cars.

Driving in Amman is not easy work. Home to four million people and 1.4mn vehicles including over 11,000 taxis, the city is prone to choking congestion.

“It takes a lot of concentration and care, especially during rush hours,” Akoubeh said.

But she enjoys the work.

“I get to know new people every day,” she said. “I enjoy my conversations with them and hearing their stories and experiences.”

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
In Big Joke saga, border patrol boss gets last laugh

Perhaps a part time laugh? The moment he becomes original in handling matters ( which is needed to l...(Read More)


Italians, boat crew and guide all arrested for fishing in national park

As a foreigner, you expect going out with thai boat captain and a thai fishing guide for fishing tha...(Read More)


Patong Police call for calm after foreigner outburst over motorbike collision goes viral

Not surprised. The standards of tourists Thailand lets in nowadays is dismal. Just take the money do...(Read More)


Italians, boat crew and guide all arrested for fishing in national park

The fish caught were disposed of in a hole in the ground. Hahahaha. Yeah, right. Dinner for the park...(Read More)


Inspectors suspect foul play from Patong resorts

Inspections should be done without announcing that they go to inspect. Do 'surprise inspections&...(Read More)


Australian stabbed 12 times trying to protect Thai woman

Anyone who believes you can stab someone 12 times in "self-defense" is overdue for a spell...(Read More)


Italians, boat crew and guide all arrested for fishing in national park

Burn the boat as well. nearly 50 kg fish catched by only 2 sportfishers in a nationalpark?? Fishing ...(Read More)


King cobra female caught in Patong, 30 eggs missing from nest

Should have brought the eggs to the serial poster.As he likes to sit down,he could carefully hatch t...(Read More)


Boy, 14, killed as Phuket suffers worst Songkran road safety record in years

Wiesel, it is not about our minds. It is about the 'after' of accidents. People not able to ...(Read More)


Patong Police call for calm after foreigner outburst over motorbike collision goes viral

Haha, very funny outcome. Pay 30,000 thb on forehand? Show me the costs of motorbike repair & m...(Read More)