“One of the most critical things that gets denied to women who are oppressed is mobility.” – Meenu Vadera
One of the hidden barriers that women around the world face is the lack of freedom to move.
Sometimes these limitations are overt; for example, did you know it is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia?
Other times lack of opportunity is related to a lack of access to transportation. In Dallas, if a woman’s car isn’t reliable or it takes 90 minutes to get to work by public transportation, her ability to get and keep her job is jeopardized. In the Dominican Republic, if a woman can’t get to the town market, she won’t earn a fair price for her goods.
And then there are cultural barriers: when is the last time your cab was driven by a woman? Just one percent of New York City’s taxi drivers are female.
I’ve been impressed with two very different approaches to empowering women through mobility that I’d like to share with you today.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig, Women With Drive – USA
A few years ago I had the great fortune of becoming friends with Molly Cantrell-Kraig, director of a wonderful U.S. impact organization called Women With Drive Foundation. Many women who want to work find themselves unable to gain or keep employment, only because they can’t get to work reliably or in a reasonable period of time. Molly’s organization helps these women work by providing them access to a safe and reliable vehicle.
I love Molly’s self-sufficiency requirements – they remind me of what we look for at Soap Hope in the programs we support to help women escape poverty. Her clients must have a job offer, be law-abiding and drug-free without DWIs or DUIs, and must pay for their own insurance and taxes. Women With Drive provides the opportunity; the client is the one that creates the success. Or as Molly says, “We provide access to a car … she provides the drive.”
Meenu Vadera, Women On Wheels – India
I saw Meenu Vadera speak recently in Dallas at the New Cities Summit about her impact organization, Women On Wheels. Ms. Vadera’s dual organizations are based in Delhi. Her non-profit provides extensive training to certify women as drivers; her for-profit then hires these women to provide transportation services in the city.
Women On Wheels empowers women across a multitude of dimensions: it provides training; it develops confidence; it offers employment and a path out of poverty; and it challenges cultural norms that tell women that certain kinds of professions are off-limits to them. Ms. Vadera’s clients often become the primary breadwinners for their families, eclipsing the income earned by their parents and sometimes becoming the first in the family to escape the city slums.
Empowerment Is The Key
We’re focused on empowerment at Soap Hope. We aim to empower women by sending all our profits to help women start businesses. We created Soap Hope to empower you as an individual to make a difference by consciously choosing where you buy. We work hard to empower you as a consumer by providing a place where all the products meet standards for health and purity. And we strive to empower other impact organizations by sharing their stories.
Watch Molly Cantrell-Kraig in an interview by The Success Loft (Can’t see this video? Here’s the link. )
Watch Meenu Vadera on Women On Wheels at the New Cities Summit 2014 in Dallas (Can’t see this video? Here’s the link. )