Female tempo drivers ply the streets of Kathmandu

भिडियो सहित हेर्नुहोस !

Today, hundreds of female tempo drivers ply the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital. The woman who paved the way for all of them is Laxmi Sharma, Nepal’s first female tempo driver.
“Every day, I had to fight battles in this male-dominated profession,” says Sharma, 65. “It was very frustrating to hold my ground in this patriarchal society. But I was strong-willed, and I never gave up.”
A tempo is a three-wheeled, battery-powered vehicle that can accommodate up to 10 people.Sharma married at 13, but her husband abandoned her 14 years later, leaving her to raise three daughters on her own.“I worked as a housemaid to sustain my family, but it was from hand to mouth,” says Sharma, who did domestic work for 16 years.In 1981, hoping for a better life for her daughters, Sharma sought a more lucrative career. She was illiterate but good with her hands. She also believed that a man’s job would yield more money.
She bought a tempo with 10,000 Nepalese rupees ($100) she borrowed from family members and hired a male driver to operate it.Meanwhile, she trained to be a mechanic in an automobile workshop, studying motor mechanics in Nepal for eight months and in India for three months. Among other skills, she learned to repair a tempo.
After a few months, she realized that the wages she paid the tempo driver kept her from making any money, so she decided to drive the vehicle herself. She asked the operator she had hired to teach her how to drive the tempo and learned to drive in seven days.Sharma drove a tempo without a license for four years, unaware she needed one until a traffic officer fined her.At the time, some Nepalese women drove their private vehicles, but Sharma was the first woman to drive a vehicle used by the public, she says.Driving a tempo brought Sharma economic independence and opened the door for other women, she says. But challenging Nepalese gender stereotypes also brought her many hardships.
“At the time I started to drive the tempo, women did not come out to work in public places,” Sharma says. “Back then, a woman riding a tempo, collecting the fare, and repairing the vehicle by herself was unusual and challenging work.”

भिडियो सहित हेर्नुहोस !

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