From where I stand: Pelin Aslantaş
I am the only woman bus driver in the city, among 202 men drivers. I’ve always wanted to drive big vehicles. I learned how to drive when I was 10 with my father’s four-wheel-drive, but it was my mother who taught me how to drive.
One day, my son noticed the municipality’s call for applications for women bus drivers online. I was very interested but I had to get a special license for public transportation, which is 10 times more difficult than getting a regular driver’s license. My male colleagues were taken aback by me in the beginning. They started a rumour among themselves that I would have an accident or would quit in no time. But after a while, they became convinced that I’m a good driver.
This is an incredibly demanding job. We work very long hours and have only one day off. For my male colleagues, their work ends here and when they go home, they can rest. But when I arrive at home, I wash my hands and head straight to the kitchen. I feel like I’m resting more in the bus while driving.
I love what I’m doing, it would have been impossible to do this job otherwise. My only rule in life is to continue what I start. I’m not a quitter, and I will go on doing my job for as long as I can.”
Pelin Aslantaş, 43, is the only female bus driver in the city of Edirne, Turkey, where UN Women provided gender-responsive budgeting training to the municipality so that when budgets are planned, they respond to the needs of all, men and women. UN Women carried out these trainings with 11 municipalities in Turkey as part of the UN Joint Programme for Promoting the Human Rights of Women, funded by Sabanci Foundation. As a result, women bus drivers were recruited for Edirne Municipality’s public transport system for the first time. Edirne also enacted legislation encouraging women to participate in this sector. Such work is in line with the new Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 8 promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; SDG 11 focuses on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable, including by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of women.
Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.