19th Apr 2021   |   Glow & Lovely Careers   |     |  
4 min read

Inspiring Success Story of Shila Dawre

Role Models

A trailblazer! That is the first word that comes to one’s mind on meeting Shila Dawre.

We often come across women excelling in various fields, but how often do we come across a girl who decided to leave her home at 18 years of age to start driving an auto? And then also got featured in Limca Book of World records for being the first female auto-rickshaw driver of India?

Meet Shila Dawre. The woman who has driven everything from an auto to a matador and owns a travel company today.

Her current dream? To establish an academy for women interested in becoming trained auto-rickshaw drivers.

How it all started…..

Shila Dawre was born and brought up in a small town called Parbhani in Maharashtra. She did her schooling till the 8th standard there.

As she grew up, Shila’s parents wanted her to get married.

Recalling those days, Sheela said, “At that point of time, women were expected to be provided basic education and then married off at a certain age. But I had dreams that I wanted to achieve and so was not ready to get married and settle down. I was good at driving, and I wanted to make it my profession.”

So at the age of 18, in 1988, she left her parent’s home in Parbhani and headed to Pune to follow her dreams. And just like that, Shila was a working woman now!

The initial struggle…..

After coming to Pune, she tried to rent a rickshaw. But she faced a lot of struggle. Nobody was ready to rent a rickshaw to a woman. Not only was driving autos considered to be a profession suitable only for men, but woman drivers were considered unsafe.

So, nobody wanted to risk their safety by having a woman driver.

But she did not give up. She was determined to turn her dream of driving into reality. 

Shila sought the help of women self-help groups in Pune. Told them how she was facing issues trying to find autos to drive.

This move helped, and with the help of these groups, Shila got to drive autos when the regular drivers were on leave.

This is how she set her foot in the world of driving. With very little earnings, she started to save every rupee she earned. She eventually saved up enough to buy herself her own auto.

She then rented a room for herself in Pune.

Soon, she met Shirish Kamble. He was also an auto driver. Shirish understood Shila and her passion for driving.  They got married and soon, Shila became a mother. Today, Shila has two beautiful daughters, a loving husband and her own transport business.

Then came the awards and the accolades…

Shila has been extensively covered by media for her courage and path-breaking career choice.

She has also been featured in our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s #BharatKiLaxmi campaign.

She has been recognized in the Limca Book of World Records as the first woman auto-rickshaw driver in the country. “I never took up the profession to make a record, in fact, I was unaware of the Limca Book Records bestowing the title upon me until I was approached by people," she once said.

Over a period of time, Shila managed to get the support from her fellow auto drivers too.

Standing up for herself and hitting a policeman… 

Once a traffic constable hit Shila. Obviously, she was scared. But, she hit him back. That was the time Shila realized that she was not alone.  All the auto union members supported her to protest against the treatment she was given.

She was now one of them. A fellow auto driver. A part of their tribe. And at the time when she needed her tribe, the members were willing to take a risk and stand by her, to support her self-respect.

Setting an example…

Passengers were impressed with Shila's courage, and she has received a low of appreciation from them.

The validation of her choice was when parents told their kids to see what a great job Shila was doing and learn from her.

Shila really had to struggle to achieve her dreams. While she did everything on her own, help did come when she needed it. In the form of self-help groups.

Just like Shila, we all have our dreams. And if we are passionate about them, we will definitely achieve success. However, along with all our hard work, a little help from others can be just the thing we need to fulfil our dreams. Keeping this in mind, we have launched a  scholarship program for girls seeking help to achieve their dreams.