Angels of Mumbai: Husna Siddique, the Wonder woman at the wheel who empowers and inspires others to thrive

Mumbai: Contrary to the misconception that women are bad drivers, a 40-year-old female taxi driver, Husna Siddique, has been breaking barriers and setting examples by plying people to various cities in her cab, giving round the clock service. Siddique has been in the taxi driving business for over 14 years and has a highly appreciative and loyal clientele, which also supported her to bring out her own company, Lotus Tours and Travels, where other women too have joined her cause and become empowered.

Coming from a middle-class and conservative background, with five daughters in the house, Siddique was married off when she was 15. She, however, divorced her husband and was a single mother to her two children, having no knowledge of the world but only to drive. "My parents were ready to support me and my children, but I did not want to be a burden on them and instead be independent. When I learnt of an opportunity for a female taxi driver's position, I applied and secured a job," Siddique said.

Back in 2005, Siddique had to convince people to sit in the cabs and reassure them that she knows how to drive, as the concept of a female taxi driver was relatively new at the time. "After I developed a good clientele over the years, one of my passengers, Lizzie Chapman, a British citizen, suggested that I open my own company, and helped me get finances to buy my own car. In 2011, I founded Lotus Tours and Travels, which has been going strong since," added Siddique.

Inspired by Siddique's move, other women also took a leap of faith and joined her ranks by quitting their jobs and joining Siddique's company and investing in their own vehicle. Now, Siddique and her colleagues offer a 24x7 cab service in and around Mumbai, wherein they do pick-ups from airports in the wee hours, without any barriers or prejudices.

Commenting on the gender disparity in the taxi driving business, Siddique said, "If a passenger boards a flight and the pilot turns out to be a woman, are they going to get off of it and demand for a male pilot? People need to show the same attitude when it comes to female drivers and burst the bubble." Due to the coronavirus pandemic induced lockdown, Siddique's business, too, was badly affected like many others, but it is thriving and she hopes it will be better.

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