After dropping out of school, Seema never dreamt of starting her own career but after support and encouragement from Restless Development’s Skill Sakhis she became the first female delivery driver in her area. Communications Coordinator for Restless Development India Pooja Kapahi spoke to Seema about what it is like to break boundaries in a male-dominated industry.
26 year old Seema, is breaking stereotypes as the first female delivery driver in Karol Bagh, India. As an Amazon India ‘Rider Partner’ she is an example to many young girls looking for unconventional job opportunities in India.
A few months ago, Seema had just dropped out of high school and hardly had any aspirations. She never thought a school-dropout would be able to get a job and be independent. She enjoyed spending time with her family and helped her mother with the household chores, while her elder brother and father were working full time.
Seema came to the Youth Resource Centre (YRC) at Dakshinpuri after she had a brief talk with one of the Skill Sakhis. Skill Sakhis are young women trained by Restless to teach other young women in their communities about employment, encouraging them to join the workforce.
Although she was living in Karol Bagh, Seema’s relatives lived in Dakhinpuri. So on a boring weekday afternoon, she decided to visit the YRC and find out more about the Disha project that her friends had been talking about.
“I had never thought of working, my family never forced me to earn my own living but when I saw how independent the Skill Sakhis are, I wanted to be like them”.
Today Seema is breaking boundaries and making history in a male-dominated industry. Pooja spoke to her about her work as an Amazon Delivery Agent.
Why did you choose to be a delivery agent?
This is my first job. When I went to the YRC and the Skill Sakhis told me about the various courses available according to my eligibility. One of the opportunities they offered me was to become a Delivery Agent and work for Amazon India.
I always liked driving and I was never interested in retail or sales. I was amongst the first few women to apply. The role didn’t just improve my driving skills or the skills required within the logistics sector, but also a confidence to challenge the historically male-dominated sector.
How did your family react when you got the job?
My family are very supportive, they trust me and know that I am passionate about driving and they have always encouraged my choices. There have been relatives and neighbours who often comment that girls should not be driving around in Delhi delivering packages and say that it isn’t safe.
My family and especially my brother has been the biggest support system.
How was your first day at the centre?
Once I received the final official letter and I joined as a delivery agent for Amazon packages, I realised there were all men and I was the only women. I felt very uncomfortable and kind of embarrassed seeing so many men.
On my first day, I picked up 50 packages to deliver and when I came out I heard the men questioning whether there were fewer men for this type of work so they were having to bring in women. I felt very weird when I heard this and it stuck with me. It was so hard that at one point I thought about leaving the job.
What motivated you to stay in the job post this incident?
I kept thinking why am I leaving this job? I should not be leaving a job. I spoke to the Skill Sakhi’s as initially, they were the ones who supported and motivated me to apply. I thought if young girl’s like the Skill Sakhis can do this, I should not be running away and leaving this job.
I then spoke to my father and he motivated me even further. My father told me to make him proud which was enough motivation to make me determined not to leave the job. No matter who says what, I will make myself and my father proud.
From this incident I realised, how important is it to have family and community support as well as confidence in yourself. If we don’t have that urge and confidence to achieve something in life then nobody will support us.
Are you more confident now to take up new challenges and break more stereotypes?
I now tackle challenges with high spirit. I don’t fear challenges but want to prove and rise higher through these challenges at work.
I used to take up more work, rather than limiting myself to 50 packages a day I would take 70 to 80. I went up to those men who spoke about me at the beginning and confronted them.
They were very apologetic, but I thanked them as their attitude pushed me to work and I am glad that I proved them wrong.
Today I am leading a team which has 20 girls and 10 boys as delivery agents. I also work as a bouncer and volunteer with Restless Development at the Dakshinpuri YRC.
What is your message for young girls and women who are inspired by you?
Never be fearful. If you have confidence in yourself then you will achieve anything in life. Never fear that you will not be able to do something.
I also want to give a message to the families of young girls and women, to support them. Only if you support your children then society will support them.
To all the young girls who think they cannot achieve anything in life, learn from my journey and the small steps I have taken to reach here. I am not saying become like me or work like me, but take those small steps to achieve your dreams.