Scopes for professional women drivers are very limited in Bangladesh for lack of safe working environment and patriarchal taboo in society, rights activists and experts have said.
Professional women drivers could play a vital role in reducing road accidents so the authorities should come forward to encourage women to join this profession and break the taboo, they think.
Nowadays many women are seen to drive on busy capital roads while most of them are private car and motorcycle drivers.
It is still rare to see any woman driving heavy vehicles like public transports, goods-laden trucks or public office vehicles.
The numbers of women with private cars and motorcycle licences are increasing especially following ridesharing services.
Transport commissioner and additional secretary Syed Abdul Momeen told New Age on Thursday that currently no women drivers were working under the directorate of government.
He said during their last recruitment no women drivers applied for those posts.
‘In our future recruitment we will look into the matter,’ he added.
Currently no women drivers are working at Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation as none ever applied for the posts, officials have confirmed.
Bangladesh Post Office in April 2017 appointed 19 female drivers to strengthen its mail transportation. Of them 10 to 12 are still working in Dhaka, Sylhet and Tangail.
Bangladesh Post Office director general Sushanto Kumar Mondal said that women drivers were very sincere.
‘We will give priority to women applicants in our next recruitment of 50 drivers,’ he added.
Bangladesh Road Transport Owners’ Association secretary general Khandakar Enayet Ullah claimed that they always wanted to recruit women drivers as they were very careful.
But they did not get any women driver so far, he added.
As per Bangladesh Road Transport Authority the number of total drivers with professional licences is 15.7 lakh, out of whom only 1,010 are women.
Eight hundred and fifty-six of them have light, 34 medium and 15 have heavy driving licences.
Among 16.12 lakh non-professional drivers 29,626 are women of whom 23,110 have light licences to drive cars and 6,518 have licences to drive motorcycles.
Many women are working as professional drivers in different local and international organisations including BRAC, Gonoshasthaya Kendra, Care Bangladesh, United Nations Development Programme and World Health Organisation.
Besides, many are working as private car drivers.
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology’s Accident Research Institute director Professor Md Mizanur Rahman said as women were very careful drivers it would be possible to reduce the number of road accidents by encouraging them to come to driving profession.
Terming the existing professional environment not encouraging, he said there should be suitable working environment for women in driving profession.
Nirapad Sarak Chai women affairs secretary Manjuly Kazi alleged that most men still were unwilling to let women move freely.
‘This society can give you permission to drive private cars but not public transports,’ she said.
She also blamed insecure working environment which discouraged women to join this profession.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country