The Sheroes of the Minibus Taxi Industry
While the minibus taxi industry in South Africa is dominated by men, there is a place for women, as operators, drivers, administrators, and vendors. Although many women face adversity in the industry, they work hard and long hours to prove their worth.
Most of the female Taxipreneurs are in their position by default after the death of their husbands who owned taxis. Taking over any business is tough, but to command the respect of drivers and other operators, these women have proved their worth by being strong and fighting for what is theirs.
Women in the minibus taxi industry would like to see more representation of the executives of the associations – to enable women to have a real say in how the associations are run. SA Taxi has invested billions into empowering female entrepreneurs in the industry, assisting to create female-owned SMEs, and financing vehicles. Group Communication Executive, Maroba Maduma, believes that increasing the presence of women in the industry will uplift the communities they support.
There are numerous challenges in South Africa’s highly gendered minibus taxi industry. The proposed regulation of the industry, although opposed by many, will hopefully pave the way for more women to enter the industry’s labour force, promoting a greater gender balance.
Lorraine Sifuba, the gender affairs Chairperson at the National Taxi Alliance (NTA), helped to develop the first female charter, which serves as a guideline for women operators. Thandazile Buthelezi, Chairlady for the Nqutu Pioneer Taxi Association, helps women obtain operating permits, as well as assistance with deceased ownership transfers. She believes that women are less aggressive than their male counterparts, and of a non-violent nature – traits that the industry desperately needs.
In the meantime, the Sheroes found in the minibus taxi industry soldier on – representing a strong female front, as drivers, operators, and vendors that supply valuable services to commuters and employees of the industry. Although in the minority, these proud women show that it is possible to break into a traditionally male-dominated sector.