Sri Lankan single mums turn taxi drivers to escape poverty

Reuters Sri lanka Dec 06, 2019, 05.25 PM(IST)

Bright pink tuk tuk taxis driven by single mums in Sri Lanka's southern province. Photograph:( Reuters )

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These women are part of a unique scheme in the country that is breaking cultural and gender barriers.

These are no ordinary taxis. They're bright pink tuk tuks taxis driven by single mums in Sri Lanka's southern province and they only take fares from women and children.

They are part of a unique scheme in the country that is breaking cultural and gender barriers.

The #ThinkPink campaign is a charity project to beat gender-based poverty, run by the Rosie May Foundation, a British charity. The project provides a sustainable living for poverty-stricken women who have been left without a husband.

With no income and no job, some consider giving up their children and send them to orphanages. But #ThinkPink provides a way out of the poverty trap.

Mary Storrie, founder of the Nottingham-based charity, regularly meets with the women to discuss their progress and help them with business development.

The project also has a savings scheme to help the women pay their bills and plan for the future.

It is a scheme that has changed the life of Nirosha whose husband left her when her daughter was just a baby. Now she has a job she takes pride in.

Dilta is another single mum living in a shack in rural Ambalangoda. She has two children and her parents to support. The tuk-tuk taxis are vital income for them.

In a country where over 90 per cent of women have suffered sexual harassment on public transport, according to the United Nations Population Fund, Dilta, like many of the women, have cornered the market in providing local school runs the #ThinkPink drivers are popular because the mothers know their children will be delivered safely.

The project has been so successful in southern Sri Lanka that it is now expanding to the capital, Colombo, where it is currently recruiting 25 new drivers.