Nothing makes Mabirka Bushi happier than when a woman gets into her taxi after refusing to go with another driver.
Bushi is the only female taxi driver in Tata, Morocco and possibly the only female driver in the entire country.
In this conservative society, women feel much more comfortable having another woman drive them – both for cultural reasons and to avoid the possibility of harassment.
Tata, located in the desert region of Morocco, is a simple and modest town. However, the lack of economic opportunity is pushing women beyond the society’s conservative social limitations. In Bushi’s case, that meant becoming a taxi driver – a profession traditionally relegated only to men.
Bushi’s father died a long time ago, as did her husband, leaving Bushi as the sole provider for her extended family. Her mother already owned a taxi company, but by the time drivers were employed and their salaries paid, there was nothing left for the family.
Bushi decided to change that. She applied for a permit to buy a taxi (which she was granted), learned to drive (which she discovered she was good at) and got a driver’s license.
Next came the challenge to Moroccan mores. “Many accept my work as a driver, and for those who oppose me, my circumstances overrule their concerns,” she says.
Her day starts first thing in the morning and ends in the evening. Picking up and taking women to nearby villages has become a joy, says Bushi, who describes the atmosphere of her taxi as one of good conversation, laughter and even singing.
It is an achievement that women in some of the largest Arab countries can only dream of, but that the women of Tata can enjoy because of the courage and gumption of Bushi.
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org
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