Gender roles Esenam Nyador, Ghana's female taxi driver

Ghana's taxi services are too male dominated, so one woman decided to drive for change. Stacey Knott speaks to Esenam Nyador, one of the few female taxi drivers in Accra.

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Esenam Nyador wanted to drive a tipper truck, but when no male driver would take her on and train her, she started looking at taxis, deciding it was about time a female took the wheel.

Eseman, also know as Miss Taxi, has been driving all over Ghana for the past three years.

She started out trying to pick up random passengers, hoping to get flagged down. She tried to join three different taxi unions, but was rejected by all.

However, she struck a deal with one around the Marina Mall area.

While the union there officially said no to her, she asked to hang around the area and if the drivers had passengers who did not want to pay their prices, Esenam would take them.

“They said 'yes, if you want our rejects you can have them'.”

This led her to meet a passenger who worked for a high commission in Ghana, who ended up passing on her number to his colleagues, and it snowballed from there.

Now, Esenam calls her cab the UN car.

play Eseman, also know as Miss Taxi, has been driving all over Ghana for the past three years. (Stacey Knott )

 

“I get clients from all over the surface of the world, literally,” she says with a smile.

The taxi driving came about when the dream to drive a tipper truck fell apart.

She spent about six months trying to convince tipper drivers to take her on and train her, but they would always tell her she would not be able to handle the early hours and the physical work.

“They were all flimsy excuses, it was just like they were trying to tell me 'this is our space don't invade it. Go find your space and belong in your small space.'”

So, taking a different angle, she started looking at the commercial transport sector finding it “very gender segregated,” so she asked why that was - why she didn't see female taxi drivers.

“For me that curiosity was social research, so I was asking myself 'should commuters be given a choice between male driver taxi service and female driven taxi service? Which one would they choose without thinking twice?'”

Over the three years she has been driving, Esenam says she attracts a lot of stares.

“I sort of understand, I am a woman in a very male dominated profession and probably they see it as a no go zone area. Some of the stares are somehow encouraging, some are like literally telling me, what are you doing here can't you find anything feminine?”

But, stares and nay sayers didn't hold her back, and now she has many clients, mostly ex-pats and tourists who she offers a range of services to, including tours of Accra, airport drop offs and pick ups and tours through Ghana.

She also picks up children from school, and takes them to appointments their parents may not be able to take them to.

“It's more like a taxi driver and a nanny sometimes,” she laughs.

play entrepreneur Kim Addison says she feels more comfortable with Esenam. (Stacey Knott)

 

One of her long-term clients, entrepreneur Kim Addison says she feels more comfortable with Esenam, than other drivers.

“Personally as a woman I feel safer, especially on a late night trip, [I like] taking Esenam because there is no risk with her."

One of the main problems she has with male taxi drivers in Ghana is their impatience when she doesn't know parts of Accra.

“If I am not certain where I am going Esenam is the go to person because she is patient and will work with me to find where I am going and make sure I get there safe.”

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