Female motortaxi drivers in the fast lane
BANGKOK — Hair pulled back tightly as she lounges on her red scooter, Ar is a rare sight among the male-dominated ranks of Bangkok’s motortaxi riders plying their trade in the Thai capital.
A veteran of seven years who works in the bustling On Nut district, Ar is among the thousands of women drawn to the work as gender roles in Thailand evolve, attracted by the flexible hours, decent wages, and a sense of autonomy.
She welcomes the changes as offering a chance for women to gain more independence.
“I am glad there are more opportunities for women to become ‘motorsai’,” she said, referring to the road warriors whose distinctive orange jackets line the streets.
“A new generation of women now have to be tough and brave.”
Although no official figures are available, observers say more women are choosing to brave the risky traffic-logged roads and discrimination for the flexible work schedule, which allows them ownership over their lives.
Chaloem Changtongmadun, president of Thailand’s Motorcycle Taxi Association, said that working as a motorsai offered women a level of freedom not available in offices, shops or factories.
“Women don’t find the work convenient when they become pregnant, take maternity leave or visit their hometown,” he said.
“They feel a closer connection with their families than when they worked in companies.”
He believes women make up roughly 30 percent of Bangkok’s 98,000 registered drivers, although others say the numbers are probably lower.
In many parts of the Thai workforce gender expectations are still at play, with women typically filling service industry jobs and clerical positions.
“Thailand still has very blatant gender discrimination,” said Kyoko Kusakabe, a professor at Bangkok’s Asian Institute of Technology where she studies women’s employment in the informal economy.
Women are more likely to take up low-paid work in the informal economy while men “stay unemployed to look for a better job”, she explained.
Thailand also has one of
those in Rome — are by most measures safer today than they were one or two decades ago, due mostly to improvements in automobiles. But the situation in Rome has improved slower than in most big cities, analysts said.
“There is no single way to reduce the number of fatalities dramatically,” Gianluca Di Ascenzo, president of Codacons, a consumer advocacy group, said in an interview.
“The unique problems Rome has have been getting worse for years. They can’t be reversed from one day to the next.”
Both Giordani and Di Ascenzo said the most step the city government can take is to put more police officers on the streets.
“More police would mean pedestrians would be more the highest numbers of road deaths in the world, and Bangkok’s motortaxi drivers embrace a life on the edge to provide a transport lifeline, weaving skillfully between long lines of cars.
As the industry has become more regulated, the drivers are now less vulnerable to abuse from criminals demanding monthly payments.
Motortaxi queues — known as “wins” — also function in a more democratic fashion, like holding elections of leaders and allowing members to vote on certain decisions.
However, most of the women still require the support of a male relative in order to join a line, where there is usually a lot of competition.
Buayloy Suphasorn, 53, started 17 years ago and is considered a pioneer as one of the first female drivers on her win.
“Some men didn’t want to sit on my bike because I’m a woman,” she said, adding that they thought she would be a bad driver. “But now things have changed.” likely to use crosswalks, drivers would drive slower, and cars would be less likely to double park, which creates obstacles for drivers and can force pedestrians to walk in the street,” Giordani said.
Angelo Bonelli, president of the Italian Green Federation, a political group that lists road safety among its central priorities, said Roman culture is part of the problem as well.
“The fact that there is little enforcement on the streets and few fines means that Roman drivers can do as they please, whether that is double parking, ignoring traffic signals, driving fast, and that makes it dangerous for everyone,” Bonelli said.
“Sometimes it can seem like the wild West out there.”
Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, exchange the traditional hongi greeting with Maori warriors during a welcome ceremony at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, on Sunday.