The Empowerment of historically disadvantaged groups like women and people with disability within the transport sector should be paramount when discussing real changes within the sector. These are the views of Sibongile Lindiwe Maseko who feel that those championing the cause of the taxi sector should rather also put on the agenda the matter of women empowerment on the agenda.
“Real agenda on the transformation of this industry cannot be said to be complete when the issues of women empowerment are swept under the carpet and are never brought to be discussed vigorously by all concerned,” says Maseko.
She has been a lone voice within the ranks of all the taxi structures she is serving in- from the local to regional levels.
Those tasked with implementing changes and are in the forefront of changing the fortune of the minibus taxi industry cannot claim easy victories if they do not talk about the positions of female taxi operators in the new set up,” Maseko says.
“Nothing can be said to be completely addressed without touching on the sensitive issues of ensuring the promotion of women to positions of influence within the different ranks in the taxi sector,” says Maseko.
For the past 15 years Maseko, who took over the family business following the death of her husband, has not encountered any challenges in raising out concerns and objections whenever she felt the need to, adding that many in the industry, in particular men, have become accustomed to the noise of loud protest whenever there are issues with discriminatory tendencies rearing their ugly heads.
“We never die and work in silence when these issues happen. Of course, some of our male counterparts are the protagonists of some of these bad tendencies but then, they are learning and are fast becoming used to us fighting to have our rightful places here,” Maseko points out.
She is a member of the Rustenburg Johannesburg Taxi Association (Joruta) and also serves as the regional executive member of the Greater Johannesburg Santaco region on the women’s desk as a project organizer. For Maseko, these positions she holds mean nothing if other female taxi owners are not empowered. She urges them to raise these issues within their structures.
“It is good for women in general to be making some strides in this business and I urge them not to sit down on their laurels when they realize that they are being undermined. Go to the chairperson’s office and raise them, and even at executive committee meetings,” Maseko says.
She urges women taxi operators to be always helpful towards each other.
“Women should be brave and do what they need to do. In fact, real mbhokodo (rocks) should stand up now and be counted and have their voices heard,” she concludes.