When you order food for delivery, do you ever take note of the gender of the delivery person? Could you guess at the ratio of male to female delivery drivers on average in the United States? While these may not seem like pressing issues, Yogesh Kumar has recently launched a business that will drastically change the gender ratio of delivery drivers in India. Even Cargo, Kumar’s newest initiative in his work toward gender equality, is India’s first women-only delivery service.
Traditionally, one associates delivery with a delivery pizza guy, for instance. Kumar wants to change this assumption. By starting his new company in India, Kumar is giving an opportunity to women who may not previously have been offered such a job.
Even Cargo specifically employs women from marginalized communities to provide them with much-needed job opportunities. Kumar talked about his motivations for this project and another one, saying, “Inequality and disparity were responsible behind my decision to start Delhi OYE first, and then Even Cargo. Many of my experiences – whether it was seeing a girl struggle to find a safe spot on a crowded bus or them trying to stay away from unwanted touches and gazes – made me start this initiative. It’s a shame that I saw women struggling on a daily basis and I could do nothing.”
Kumar’s awareness of the struggles that women face daily led him to dedicate his time to gender equality. He did not resign himself to accepting what he saw. Rather, he created something amazing that will create opportunities for many women.
The decision to give women jobs specifically in delivery was deliberate. Kumar explains, “We wanted to make a statement through our action so we decided to start a ‘for women by women cab’ service. But it didn’t work out due to various factors; one being that the risk of owning the vehicle was seen as a big problem by these women. The whole purpose of starting this venture was to empower women to reclaim their share of public space. So then we started Even Cargo.” The decision separated women from the cooking aspect of food services, which is commonly seen as a woman’s job, and placed them in the driver’s seat, literally. Kumar wants women to be able to claim the space that was unavailable to them before.
Kumar takes the safety of the employees at Even Cargo very seriously. Because he understands the risks that women face, he has guidelines set to ensure that every delivery girl is safe and confident. “For any girl to be employed as a delivery girl with Even Cargo, she has to go through four modules of training – a) a training in riding two wheelers by Honda, b) a training in soft skills, c) training in self-defense, and finally a logistics-specific training.”
Pooja, a woman who works as a rider for Even Cargo, said of her experience, “Initially, people used to feel surprised at having us deliver their orders. But they always used to commend and congratulate us. This adds to our confidence and helps us perform better.” The experience the women at Even Cargo get is important in gaining confidence and breaking through gender stereotypes.
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