In a world that’s not only changing radically, but also leaving no casualties behind, women suffer a unique fate – societal, and often self-imposed restriction from freely venturing out and earning a livelihood on their own terms. Not only in India, but across the globe, most women are deprived of basic rights to freedom.
MOWO is a result of years of culminated efforts and realizations by its founder Jai Bharathi (JB), who encountered the sub-par and highly unequal social disposition of women first hand during her motorcycle expeditions. As a free-willed, independent woman herself, JB realized the power that mobility can lend women. To her, motorcycling has always represented freedom, empowerment and responsibility. She then took up the cause of empowering women through the same tools that have driven her passion – mobility.
MOWO (Moving Women) has been hailed as a revolutionary initiative aiming at empowering women to be self-reliant and independent by aiding them with two/three wheeler trainings and consequentially, offering related livelihood opportunities.
What is MOWO
MOWO (Moving Women) started with the belief that mobility offers women freedom and empowerment.
MOWO is a revolutionary initiative aimed at empowering women to be independent by offering them two and three-wheeler training and related livelihood opportunities. We train women in driving two and three-wheelers, liaise with organisations to create more employment opportunities for women in mobility and work on policy advocacy which will eventually lead to more women occupying our roads.
Based in Hyderabad, India, so far, we have reached out to 1200 women, worked with them and 250 of them have been trained in riding two-wheelers, with required driving licenses, and placed a few of them in logistic delivery jobs.
Vision: To create a safe and reliable commute option “For and By Women” and in doing so, empower women to become self-reliant and confident.
To create a safe and reliable commute option “For and By Women” and in doing so, empower women to become self-reliant and confident.
Creating a generation of confident women who are equipped with mobility as a skill for empowerment and employment.
The story Behind MOWO
Women all over the world face restrictions on their mobility and occupy public spaces much lesser. While cultural restrictions are a big contributor, the ever-present lack of safety is another factor. While most women put up with everyday verbal harassment, incidents of assault are constant reminders of the lack of safety for women on our streets.
With MOWO, we wanted to work towards making our roads an equal space for women. As this article on UN-Habitat rightly states – “Creating safety involves much more than just responding to violence. It is important to create the conditions by which women are able to move about safely and without fear of violence or assault.”
MOWO is an effort towards creating this sense of safety for women in India. With more women trained in driving two and three-wheelers, we will see more women occupying our public spaces. We will also witness more women access employment opportunities beyond the limited options that are currently present. Our dream of social transformation of moving women which is a ripple right now will grow into a wave soon. We intend to change how women access public spaces.
Why Moving Women
MOWO is committed to its mission of utilising mobility as a means of creating a more equal and safer society for women. We believe that our initiative can improve society in more than one way.
Converting Roads into Equal Spaces
It is a well-known fact that roads, especially those in India are populated and mostly devoid of women. This becomes more apparent when we look beyond public transportation. Women riding two-wheelers are very less, and three-wheelers are almost negligible. And, we at MOWO aim to change that by creating a large number of skilled women drivers, who can occupy roads – either for work or for leisure. As more people get used to seeing women on the roads, these spaces start becoming more equal. We know that our little initiative will one day bring about a huge change in terms of public space access for women.
Know about our trainings
Increased Livelihood Opportunities
While interacting with other organisations focusing on women empowerment, we realised that the livelihood opportunities for women are very restricted. In the quest to making women economically empowered, most organisations as restricted in finding job opportunities for women – tailoring, and printing continue to be the only options available. With the advent of a large logistic delivery economy, we wanted to help women access jobs in organisations like Uber, Ola, Amazon, Flipkart, Lynk, Swiggy, and Zomato. So, while we train women in the skill of driving two & three-wheelers, we also tie-up with organisations that can offer unique working facilities for our graduates.
Find out about how we facilitate employment
Improving Safety for Women in Public Spaces
If women have to experience safety in public spaces, we need more women in these spaces. With MOWO, we teach women to drive two-wheelers and three-wheelers for their commute, or as a precursor for better employment. Either way, this will increase the number of women who access roads, and consequently other public spaces. As more women start occupying public spaces, these spaces start becoming safer for other women too.
What is the inspiration behind MOWO?
Addressing Road Safety
India holds a bad reputation for being one of the leading countries with respect to the number of road accidents we witness. In our quest to change this, we want to build a training school that is stringent about the drivers that it puts out on the streets. Our detailed training module and strict rules for instructors ensure that our graduates are truly comfortable in driving, fully aware of the road rules, and procure valid driver’s licenses.
The inspiration behind MOWO
In February 2018 our founder, Jai Bharathi, set out on the first of its kind cross-country women motorcycle expedition leading a group of four women. During this journey to five countries – Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia – covering 17000 km in 56 days, the inspiration for MOWO was born.
After crossing the second foreign land border in Myanmar, they entered into Thailand where they had to face an exhausting six hours paperwork at the immigration. Right after that they stopped to binge on some street food. “At that time, I saw a group of women, most of whom were in their 40s and 50s, standing at a junction with their scooters”, says Jai Bharathi. They were bike taxi operators. “I spoke to them, sought permission, and clicked a picture of theirs because it was a significant and powerful takeaway from my expedition”, she adds.
These women on their bike taxis were the biggest inspiration behind MOWO’s vision – of involving more women in mobility in India. “Their presence gave me immense clarity and grounded my vision further. I knew this was my purpose”, says Jai Bharathi.
In one year from then, MOWO was created as a social enterprise, to get more women on the streets (on their independent vehicles).
Vice Chairperson, ELICO Ltd.
Managing Director, Elico Healthcare Services Ltd.
Vanitha Datla, a businesswoman has varied experience in the sectors of as Financial Services, Insurance Services, Cement, Power, Security Printing, Instrumentation & BPO services in the USA and India. She was the Chairperson of Indian Women Network (IWN-CII), Southern Region, in 2017-18, and is a Board Member of the WWF State Chapter of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Dr Sai Daayana
Gynecologist, Apollo Hospitals.
Dr. Sai Daayana is passionate about raising awareness and knowledge regarding cancer prevention. She dedicates a lot of her time promoting well-being amongst women of all age groups through talks, workshops, and health camps.
Dr Mamatha Raghuveer Achanta
Founder/Director, Tharuni NGO.
Dr. Mamatha Raghuveer is a child rights activist who has relentlessly been fighting for the rights of children, particularly girls and is instrumental in bringing about changes in the law for Prohibition of Child Marriages. She started ‘Tharuni’, a Voluntary organization in 2000 and is currently an Executive Board Member of Bharosa, an initiative of Telangana Police.
An avid motorcyclist, Jai Bharathi has experienced immense freedom and joy owing to her passion for motorcycles and travel. She was conferred the “Vishishta Mahila Puraskaram” under the Adventure category by the Department of Women & Child Welfare, Govt. Of Telangana in 2019 and several other awards.
Leading Bikerni Hyderabad, a regional chapter of ‘The Bikerni’ an all-women motorcycle club since its inception in 2013, she has led multiple motorcycle expeditions – to Ladakh, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, a cross-country expedition across six nations in South East Asia covering 17000 km, Bathukamma ride in Telangana covering 1200 km and 17380 km Wheels of Will expedition across the USA in 35 days. She has also authored a book (in English and Telugu) on organising & leading the first of its kind all women cross country motorcycle expedition. 700 of these books were distributed across colleges for women in Telangana, to inspire more women.
Her efforts in the field of motorcycling have been appreciated by our Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi & the Chief Minister of Telangana Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao. Professionally an architect, Jai Bharathi has also worked with several nonprofit organisations in the space of economic empowerment of women, education for children, solar lighting, and has also been active in relief work during natural calamities.
Her passion for her motorcycles and inclination towards social issues inspired her to work towards empowering women using mobility as a tool.
Jai Bharathi’s passion for travel took her to all the UNESCO world heritage sites in India in 2012 and the first winner of GoUnesco travel challenge. Later on she kept visiting UNESCO sites to every country she travelled to. She did a solo backpacking tour and visited 11 UNESCO sites in 11 days across Turkey.
Over the last decade, she worked with several NGO’s in the fields of women empowerment, children education, solar lighting & relief works during natural calamities. Her passion towards two wheels and inclination towards the society has triggered the thought of empowering women using mobility as a tool.
She has authored a book on organising & leading the first of its kind all women cross country motorcycle expedition which will be released shortly.
Late Sri Hari Charan Sammeta
A BITS Pilani Alumnus, Hari worked in executive roles in Lanco and Deloitte. Apart from his profession, he was a passionate motorcyclist and served as the Secretary for the Harley Owners Group, Banjara chapter,Hyderabad. He was one amongst the men who believed that empowering women was the way forward for a better society. Hari has been instrumental from the conceptual stages of MOWO in setting right strategies for bringing in the social transformation of women in mobility sector. Though the roads he liked have taken him away from us, we look up to him as a guiding light and ensure that the strategy he set will impact women at large.