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Camilla tries out Delhi cab service by women for women

Women On Wheels trains women from disadvantaged backgrounds as drivers in Delhi and provides a safe option for female passengers.

An Indian taxi driver can now say “you’ll never guess who was in the back of my cab” – after the Duchess of Cornwall tried out a cab service by women, for women.

Camilla went for a spin in a taxi run by the organisation Women On Wheels, an award-winning social initiative training women from disadvantaged backgrounds as drivers in Delhi, and providing a safe option for female passengers.

The Duchess was introduced to three of the organisation’s 500 or so female employees, including Khushi, 26, who told her: “This is a different kind of job for women. I was doing various jobs, domestic service, working as a beautician, when I heard about this from a neighbour in south Delhi.

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Camilla is presented with the book Lady Driver by taxi driver Poonam from Women on Wheels (Yui Mok/PA)

“I have been working as a taxi driver and now I am a trainer and I am so very proud of my job. My father was not sure at first and a little scared for me, but my mother was always very proud.

“It’s very unusual to see a women taxi driver, still. When I stop at the traffic lights I can see people turning round to look in at me.

“We only take women and families, or men when they are with a lady. Women like to use us as they feel safer. Rape and sexual assault are a big issue in India.”

Women On Wheels was established in 2008 through the Azad Foundation and Sakha Wings Consulting, to empower disadvantaged women by helping them to become self-sufficient, professional drivers.

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Camilla with Meenu Vadhera, right, executive director of the Azard Foundation, and taxi drivers from Women on Wheels (Yui Mok/PA)

So far, Women On Wheels has helped more than 500 women across India to gain employment and the programme is now being run in six cities across India.

Meenu Vadhera, executive director of the Azad Foundation and developer of the programme, said the initiative enabled women to find a good job working in a safe and well-paid environment.

The Duchess, whose 11-day tour of south-east Asia and India ends later, said after her short journey in the taxi: “It’s a really inspired scheme. It allows women a flexible working option, that they can work around their families, in a safe environment.”

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