Offering peace to a segment of society proves the best payment we could ever receive. In the traditional system, women fear being kidnapped, harassed, and even raped. SheTaxi helps reduce our defenselessness.
ROSARIO, Argentina ꟷ Driving my taxi at night, I never know who will cross my path or what kind of customer will ride in the back seat. Wandering the roads, a silhouette raises a hand to stop me. As I slow down my taxi, a moment passes between stopping the car and the customer entering the vehicle. I size him up.
After ten years of driving, I believe I am an expert at assessing people. I look at him and ask myself, “Should I stop, or should I go?” He looks well dressed. The area is not dangerous, and instinct tells me I should have no problems. He enters the car and tells me where to go. Then he says, “Oh! You are a woman. Should we take a detour, beautiful?”
I have learned instinct can be wrong and harassment almost always arises.
These experiences remain common for me, and others like me. Some men say the words are just a harmless catcall. They claim I exaggerate. I maintain, whether a soft comment or a crude, sexual one, this should not happen.
I sit in a small space in the interior of my vehicle. Driving through the madness of the streets holds my attention. Worrying about the passenger behind me provides an additional and necessary task. When a woman enters my taxi, I feel joyful and tranquil. She feels the same when she sees me.
With a woman driver, she can relax. Female passengers share their experiences with me. Once, a passenger told me about a male driver from a transportation service who flirted with and harassed her repeatedly. Another time a female passenger threw herself on the floor of my taxi to hide. When I asked what was wrong, she said her partner had followed her. At first, I tried to lose him, to no avail. When I pulled into a police station, he drove by.
After having many experiences like this, I began to recognize the constant positive support between female drivers and passengers. An idea came to mind, to create SheTaxi, an app connecting women with drivers. As the mere possibility arose in my imagination, I felt tremendous joy.
The app could benefit women and drivers all over. Many women asked for my phone number to contact me directly when they needed a taxi. I knew a larger market existed and wanted to spread their peace of mind. The app could also give women drivers the opportunity to work at night exclusively picking up women – something they often avoided out of fear.
I began researching apps and features, investing time and money to embark on this new experience. While not significant, I did face inconveniences, particularly with the legal aspects of implementation. SheTaxi remains a social project – not a company, civil association, or cooperative. I needed to register it as such.
Once the app began working, it took two months to arrange the first trip through it. The moment felt so exciting. At last, the long-awaited moment materialized. We made connections between drivers and passengers, both of whom would benefit from this new experience.
Though slow to start, and without much publicity, we started to break through. A user of traditional taxi services heard about us, wrote a Tweet, and the venture went viral. Our best way to make ourselves known remains word of mouth.
Clients pass on the information and recommend SheTaxi to friends. We have a regular clientele who use our services frequently. In other cases, a granddaughter may teach her grandmother how to use the app. Fathers and mothers seek us out to transport their underage daughters to school and activities. We offer them confidence. That’s what it’s about.
Offering peace to a segment of society proves the best payment we could ever receive. We offer reassurance and a democratic way to utilize public transportation. In the traditional system, women fear being kidnapped, harassed, and even raped. SheTaxi undoubtedly helps reduce our defenselessness.
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