In the Indian capital New Delhi, there are a large number of slums which are zones of poverty. When Avani Singh was younger, she thought of them as a part of the city. A few years later, she heard about a new kind of bicycle rickshaw, which was bright green in color and looked super futuristic. With a solar panel on the roof, it was electric-powered. Hence, it was easier to pedal. Avani Singh, a 16-year-old girl saw a dream- rickshaw driving could become an easy job that women could do. Avani founded Ummeed, a training program in which women from the slums of Delhi are taught to become taxi and rickshaw drivers. Through this initiative, she’s giving women a way to earn both a living and a level of physical and social mobility that was earlier impossible.
Named ‘Ummeed ki Rickshaw (rickshaw of hope)’ by its organizers Ummeed and Cequin (Centre for Equality and Inclusion), the project was launched by Union New and Renewable Energy Minister Farooq Abdullah in Delhi.
The programme aimed at enabling women to drive smart and earn a living with dignity and respect. The NGOs resolved to provide and maintain the rickshaws and train the women to run it.
Presenting the keys of the electric rickshaw to its first recipient Kohinoor, Abdullah said, “Women today need to be trained in various employable skills as it is difficult to run a family on one person’s salary in this age of rising prices.”
Avani Singh who founded Ummed is a student of Modern School Delhi. She said, “Three to four months back when I saw men driving these rickshaws in Saket area, I thought the three-wheelers would be of great help to women. The immediate idea that struck my mind was women can earn a living by driving these vehicles.”
She said, “We have begun this programme in Jamia area and will expand it to other areas.
We are hoping for corporate sponsorship to fund this programme.”
Avani Singh started her initiative Ummeed with a single electric rickshaw, which was donated by the local manufacturer, Green Wheels. But she needed to find a driver, so in collaboration with Delhi-based NGO CEQUIN, she put out a call for volunteers in Jamia. She doesn’t plan on stopping there. Knowing that women can drive a rickshaw, she became determined to train women to drive something bigger, like a taxi. With Ummeed, five women were selected and trained to receive their driver’s licenses. Four of them have got the license to drive on Delhi’s streets and Ummeed is in the process of setting them up as taxi drivers.
The NGO, she said, is aiming at distributing 10 rickshaws a year to women in partnership with Centre for Equity and Inclusion (CEQUIN). The vehicle would charge Rs 10 per person.
About the benefits of electric rickshaws, Singh said, “It requires least manual labor and is environment-friendly. Women can drive it easily.”
Sara Pilot of Cenquin said they were happy to partner with ‘Ummeed’. “This has provided our women an exciting opportunity to break stereotypes and take on new challenges.”
Avani’s Message to Women
Their self-confidence and drive just blossoms. These young girls get married before they’ve ever left their village — half of them get married at age thirteen. We’re getting them to realize their potential and to realize they can do something big with their lives. improve the
Ummeed is a really small step — it’s practically nothing if you look at it from the country’s perspective or from the world’s perspective. But I think something small like this can help inspire a young generation to make a difference.
Avani Singh has proved that if you dream big you can achieve anything, your age and resources don’t matter. At this young age, she has started such a big initiative to change the lives of young girls and women in her country. We appreciate her efforts to bring a change in the society and improve the lives of women. She is no doubt a Wonderful Woman!