THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Women in Uganda are taking on a new role, as drivers for an all-female ride-hailing service, Diva Taxi.
The taxi service, dreamed up by a local woman who lost her logistics job at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, was launched in June 2020 and has recruited more than 70 drivers. They range from college students to mothers hoping to make good use of their secondhand Toyotas.
It’s uncommon to find female taxi drivers in Uganda, a socially conservative country where most women labor on farms or pursue work in the informal sector. Diva Taxi believes countless women are looking for jobs at a time of severe economic distress. The International Labor Organization has said women’s employment in developing countries is likely to be hit harder than men’s in the pandemic.
“I should say I was personally affected by COVID,” Diva Taxi founder Gillian Kobusingye said.
She found herself prevented from working as authorities imposed restrictions on movement to slow the spread of the virus. For several weeks, even taxis were not authorized to operate in Uganda.
She formed the business based on the idea that women wanted driving opportunities and might be more reliable workers than men.
A prospective driver must have a car in good condition and a smartphone equipped with the mobile app that clients use, along with a valid driver’s license and a certificate of good conduct issued by Interpol.
The Diva Taxi app has been downloaded at least 500 times, and each of the company’s 72 drivers provides an average of 30 rides each week, Makyeli said. The company expected to have 2,000 active users by the end of 2020.