More women are taking to driving in Odisha with licence holders rising by 34 per cent in the last five years, although their numbers have dropped in the preceding 12-month period.
The numbers, however, are not very encouraging when compared to other states, said Sanjay Biswal, Joint Commissioner, Transport (Road Safety).
In 2017, a total of 25,086 women had driving licences across the state. The number increased to 33,666 in 2021, the State Transport Authority said.
But in 2019 and 2020, the number of women drivers was more than 36,000, it said in a release on Monday on the eve of International Women's Day (IWD).
The dip was due to the closure of training institutes teaching women to drive commercial vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a delay in issuing certificates, and also many women drivers did not renew their licences.
"We need to encourage more and more women to come forward and take up driving," Biswal said. Women gain confidence by learning to drive and, therefore, are not dependent on others for their daily commute, according to Biswal.
The Transport Department provides free professional driving training to women at two institutes to empower women and make them self-reliant. IWD celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It seeks action for accelerating gender equality.
This year's theme is 'gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow', a recognition of the women's contribution in leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, according to the UN Women.
Meanwhile, the Mo College Abhijan received a contribution of Rs 1 lakh for the construction of an IT-aided reading room for visually-impaired students at Rama Devi Women's University in Bhubaneswar.
The contribution was made by Registrar Shyamali Mohapatra on behalf of her mother. "A good education is the right weapon to empower oneself and it also enables one to break glass ceilings," Mohapatra said.
With PTI inputs.