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My experience organising a workshop on safe driving for women

We are used to a culture where driving has been seen as an option that is not even a good-to-have skill in the case of women.

BHPian DogNDamsel12 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

On 17 September 2022, when the Vishwakarma Puja is celebrated and cars are taken to temples for rituals, 10 women gathered under an initiative, She Must Drive. This was for a "Workshop on Safe Driving for Women" c/o D-BHPian SS-Traveller.

Thanks to Samba for the essential photos!

Location: Club De Golf, New Town. The place has ample parking space and also access to oodles of empty to low traffic roads.

THE PURPOSE OF THE SAFE DRIVING WORKSHOP FOR WOMEN

She Must Drive is a not-for-profit initiative I had started to bring focus on the importance of driving for women. Driving is an essential life skill. Safety best practices and critical benchmarks need to be given adequate indulgence to prevent any untoward incidents from occurring on the road.

Consider these -

  • Incidents on the road may also reinforce the fear of driving, and the roads may become daunting for everyone involved
  • Our awareness of road safety is very disarrayed and gathered from various sources
  • In a hobby like this, sometimes the adrenaline rush and the ego are bigger drivers, while safety takes the backseat with no seat belts
  • In driving schools, one learns the basics - A-B-C, gears, and how to turn the wheels, and sometimes the education has a limited objective of barely hitting the road. Safety is a lot more than getting a license
  • In many cases people learn from friends and family and there is no organized, single reference point handy for understanding safety measures
  • Even when we are driving alright, a lot happens on the road that we need to be prepared for and more prepared to take ownership of
  • Being able to return home in one piece is non-negotiable

Hence, the need for safety training - not just for women but for everyone.

SO WHY TARGET WOMEN?

We are used to a culture where driving has been seen as an option that is not even a good-to-have skill in the case of women.

A humbling 11 percent of women in India drive. An essential for enabling women to drive is to make them feel safe about their own driving in their own vehicles. In a world where women are exposed to the outside more so now than ever, so, being able to drive a car from point A to B may be a safer option than being driven around, especially at odd hours in the company of strangers, or in an emergency.

In my opening thread in the Team-BHP Forum, I had written about Driving an inclusive driving culture.

Head check: Female participation in the workforce is about 25 percent in India (lowest amongst developing nations). This has everything to do with gender discrimination (98 percent of the discrimination she faces is owing to her gender) Click for Source.

That's me stealing a few moments addressing the group about biase

PRE-WORK

I conducted the dipstick check survey with the participants to understand their level of expertise, fears involved in driving, and expectations of the workshop.

Result of my survey- What lay beneath : These are not anything that you have not heard before, but still putting it out there -

  • Women have been told not to get a car, and rather be driven around - fathers, brothers, husbands, male friends/ colleagues, family drivers, cab drivers. You get the drift!
  • It is a motor-neurotic action that if a man and a woman are both available to drive, the man may be the preferred one to take to the wheels
  • Social messaging such as women cannot drive or are poor drivers. A man is a better driver. This is an additional hurdle that gets reinforced over time and women sometimes end up internalizing this belief!
  • Underlying fear of making mistakes, goofing up, and injuring someone. This fear sometimes is completely up against women's primitive "preserver" instinct
  • Lack of knowledge and access to the idea of driving, as children, and therein not developing an interest for it. Boys shadow men (fathers, uncles, etc.) and girls shadow the women. This develops gender roles and biases at an early age

Fears expressed in the survey included -

  • Movement of animals and other vehicles while driving
  • Narrow roads
  • Crowded streets
  • Bumper-to-bumper drives on straight and inclined roads
  • Changing lanes
  • Parking
  • Descending slippery hilly roads

The workshop was, therefore, to start addressing all of this and to orient the participants towards the safety of themselves and others on the road.

Glimpses of the workshop

THE WORKSHOP

BHPians at work

  • D-BHPian SS-Traveller (Faculty and Facilitator) - Based on the results of my dipstick check with women drivers, he curated a bespoke curriculum for the audience. Link to his recent article on (The Ten Commandments of Driving Safely)
  • D-BHPian Samba (Coordination support and gracious handyman) - Samba helped with the hands-on exercises and as constant support to the program, as he is the one who knows most of the people here in Kolkata Link to his recent article on (Defending my vehicle : The onus is on myself)

 

  • Me (Facilitator and Trainee) - While I conceived the workshop, and conducted the survey, I was also one of the 10 women attending it.

Participant profile

Participants included 10 women including myself. Age ranged from 20-55 years. Their driving experience ranged from those with no 4w-driving experience to one's who had a license but did not drive for fear, those who did not enjoy driving, regular city drivers, ones who enjoyed driving, and ones who have driven in different terrains.

PEDAGOGY -

  • 5 minutes of briefing on recognition and breaking of stereotypes
  • 4 hours of theory using a presentation and lecture
  • 4 hours of practical where people had the chance to learn how to examine a vehicle, and also to drive and observe their fellow drivers drive under the supervision and guidance of SS-Traveller
  • Safety kit given to all participants, included - handbook, bumper sticker, and sunshade reminder sticky note

Continue reading BHPian DogNDamsel12's thread on the workshop conducted on safe driving for women for more insights and information.

 
Power to the people