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Nigeria’s women drivers rally together to navigate male-dominated industry

Elishabawa 1 week ago 0 1

In Lagos, Nigeria, the night was already deep when Victoria Oyeyemi’s phone rang urgently last February. She was preparing to retire for the night when news of a serious accident involving her fellow taxi driver, Gladys April Abanang, shook her awake. Abanang’s car had careened out of control, mounting a curb and somersaulting in the bustling Oshodi area of Lagos.

Promptly responding to the distress call, Oyeyemi, the Chief Security Officer (CSO) for Ladies on Wheel Association of Nigeria (LOWAN), rushed to the scene within minutes. As a volunteer for the non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women drivers, Oyeyemi oversees a helpline for members in need of emergency assistance.Despite her own injuries, Abanang managed to reach out to LOWAN’s CSO, highlighting the crucial role the organization plays in providing support to its members during crises. While Abanang’s husband transported her to the hospital, Oyeyemi remained at the accident site, adeptly managing the aftermath. She negotiated with onlookers and local troublemakers who demanded compensation for their aid, arranged for the car’s towing service, all of which LOWAN covered. In the ensuing weeks, the organization continued to extend support to Abanang until she fully recovered.

For LOWAN, camaraderie is foundational. Founded by Nkechi Abiola six years ago with just six members, the association has burgeoned to include approximately 5,000 female commercial drivers across Nigeria. With their expanding membership comes an array of supportive measures. Members not only look out for each other on the road but also exchange trade advice and explore secondary business opportunities.

In addition to fostering a tight-knit community, LOWAN provides financial assistance through loans, aiding the 60 percent of members who are yet to own their vehicles. A regular savings scheme further strengthens their financial resilience. Beyond their roles as drivers, LOWAN members are actively involved in advocacy efforts against gender-based violence and domestic abuse. Through awareness campaigns, they shed light on the challenges faced by women in Nigeria, striving to create safer and more equitable communities.

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