Women Drive Women: The Taxi Service Revolution In Algeria

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For years, Algerian women have challenged the idea that driving transportation is the exclusive domain of men.

Algerian law sets the age of 25 to pursue the profession of driving a taxi, according to what was stated in Executive Decree 230 issued in 2012.

According to the figures of the traffic and Urban Transport Corporation of the Ministry of Transport, the number of taxi drivers at the level of Algiers has reached thirty women, and this number is related to those who work legally, as there are women practising this profession in unspoken ways.

Changing circumstances and increased harassment have resulted in the phenomenon of “women driving women” meaning that taxis or “Klundistan” cars are allocated to women and families only, a phenomenon that exists in Arab countries including Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan.

In the province of Tizi – Ouzou in Kabylie region, the “Enas Taxi” initiative was launched in August 2018, aiming to fulfil the desire of the region’s women and girls to preserve their privacy. “The woman generally feels comfortable and reassured when she is riding in a car driven by a woman,” says Enas (supervisor of the project).

In 2018, Elias Mullar launched an application named “Done” meaning colloquially “at full speed” which provided a service of “one hundred per cent women”. He said this service came to fulfil the desire of surfers of the application through social networking sites. They also train female applicants who undergo a training course during which they are taught techniques for using the “Tamm” application and the method of dealing with female clients. The number of female drivers working for the company is expected to increase in the future.

“Klundistan” is an attraction parallel to the women’s services provided by transportation applications, some taxi companies have resorted to employing women drivers whose mission is to transport women and families throughout Algeria. According to Samir Dabbahi (general manager) of the “Siren Taxi” company, which is based in the Douira region (west of Algiers), his company has allocated cars for women since 2017, and this came in response to the requests of people on social media and by phone.

Sirin Taxi, a subsidiary of the parent company, DS Tax, employs four women drivers who have official training certificates including older women with years of experience in driving. And drivers are booked through an electronic application or by phone, and the customer can get to know the CV of the driver who is carrying it by clicking on the box designated to choose between the driver, man, or woman.

On the other, women and girls of different ages and levels of education have stormed the world of “the Klundistan”, and they are eager to provide their services to women by offering offers through social l networking sites or through social networking sites or through employment ads. Osama, who works in a neighbourhood in Al-Shuhada Square in the Capital, prefers that his wife or sister take a taxi or “Klundistan” car driven by a woman.

Although, this is a new phenomenon in Algeria, most Islam-dominated countries face almost similar discrimination when it comes to this profession (driving). However, this is changing as women have been encouraged because they provide, protect Islamization for wives, sisters and daughters.

Some women like Mrs Kawthar F. (40 years old) who lives in the El-Sharaga district (West of Algiers) is into the taxi business. Kawthar selects her clients very carefully, as she refuses to transport “suspicious” girls. So she does not smoke or listen to music in her car and opposes riding her customer’s husband, as she only drives women. But like every job, there are risks with driving especially as a woman in Algeria.

In a push to empower young women, the Sahrawi sisters opened an all-female driving school in Dakhla, after their personal experience of not knowing how to drive. Motivated by this, they came up with this initiative of driving school for just women, for whom getting behind the wheel is still considered uncommon. But these attitudes have started changing.

The sight of women working as bus and taxi drivers in Algeria’s towns can surprise newcomers by suggesting women emancipation in Algeria. Although equality of sexes is enshrined in Algeria’s constitution and women hold senior positions in central and regional government, the courts, security services and embassies. The government says sexual harassment has been criminalized and provisions added to legislation to bolster women’s right.

The wind of change is now in Algeria for women in the taxi business, and if sustained against discrimination women will be free to move without depending on others (husbands, brothers, fathers) to be empowered.

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