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Egyptian women taking the wheel in male-dominated taxi industry

From Salma Abdelaziz, CNN
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Female cab driver in Cairo, Egypt
  • Inas Hassan Ali is one of only eight female cab drivers in Cairo
  • She is proud of entering a male-dominated profession
  • The job is not without challenges, Ali says
  • Egypt has a high rate of sexual harassment of women
  • Egypt
  • Cairo

(CNN) -- In the heart of the bustling capital of Cairo, Egypt, a lone female taxi driver navigates her bright yellow cab through the unforgiving traffic.

"I wanted to take this adventure, as I consider it an adventure, rather than an experience. Thank God, I believe it is a nice adventure so far and I feel happy with it," Inas Hassan Ali says.

Ali is one of only eight female cab drivers in a city where the profession is dominated by men.

"For me, it's a very normal job, and there is nothing wrong for women to try to join a field of work that we deem as male-dominated. I see nothing wrong with that if the woman has the required skills and abilities," Ali says.

Female cab drivers started appearing in Cairo's streets only earlier this year. While some welcome the transition, Ali is facing many challenges.

"Still the society is not used to such an idea -- that a woman joins a field of work that was only limited to men. And still there are some people who see it as strange. On the other hand, others get curious and wonder: how did you enter this area of work and why?" Ali says.

One factor that makes it difficult for women to break into a male-dominated profession is the high rate of sexual harassment in the country. In a recent report, the Egyptian Centre for Women's Right (ECWR) concluded that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in Egypt have experienced sexual harassment in some way or another.

"It's usual here in Egypt that women get subject to some minor acts when they drive a car. ... Some encourage and show support for me. Others act by trying to block my way to show they are more skillful drivers and to prove that it's a male-dominated job," Ali says.

However for an enthusiastic Ali, the rewards of her profession move beyond gender politics.

"I am most interested in making my clients best satisfied at the end of the trip, regardless of their gender, as the common impression is that women are bad drivers," she says. "To have both men and women as my clients and make them feel comfortable is the greatest success for me."