According to UNICEF, 70 crore young girls are married before the age of 18 across the world. But Selvi Gowda did something that most of us wouldn’t image as a future for a child bride.
At the age of 14, she was fed up with her life and was contemplating suicide by jumping in front of a bus. But instead, she gathered the courage to get away from her village and boarded the bus which landed her in Mysore. When someone spotted her crying, they brought her to a shelter for abused women – it is this Odanadi shelter that taught her various skills. While most women were taught threading (the skill of plucking eyebrows and other facial hair, practised by beauticians across the world), the director of Odanadi thought she should take driving lessons instead.
At first, she was very bad at it, however later on Selvi and two other women became skilled drivers and bought a Maruti Suzuki Omni van with the help of Odanadi shelter, according to CNN.
Petrified by the challenges that are faced by a woman driver, Selvi was the only one out of the three women who continued and did not give up. She went on to become South India’s first female taxi driver.
Selvi has now tied up with travel companies and does not roam the streets looking for passengers. She finds work and has regular clients. Selvi once told CNN that driving wasn’t all about money, “[It] gave me peace of mind. I just thought about who my next passenger was going to be and what the next adventure was going to be and that kept me happy.” She also said that it is not the men but the women drivers who give her maximum trouble and that all her passengers are surprised to see a woman on the driving seat.
Her story was documented in a film made by filmmaker Elisa Paloschi, titled ‘Driving With Selvi‘.
She now has a daughter and is married to a man she met during her work named Viji who is also a driver.
Selvi is an example and a really powerful one of how we could turn our troubles into triumphs by working consistently and dreaming big. Three cheers for women drivers?