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Beyond the expected

Edwina helps drive a safer journey for women 

By John Thistleton 15 October 2018 48

Caption: Canberra shebah driver and mum-to-be Edwina Wright. Photo: supplied.

When she fell pregnant and found working in a busy production company was becoming too much, Edwina Wright decided to become an Uber driver, before her partner had a better idea.

Why not work for the all-female ride share shebah?

A couple of weeks ago, Edwina did just that and has been working four-hour and five-hour shifts ever since. Canberra has 20 shebah drivers and is looking for more. Shebah launched in March last year in Melbourne and is in all the eastern state capitals and regional Victoria. It started in February in Canberra this year.

Its website says the number of drivers is growing every day and women across Australia are turning to shebah for safe and convenient transportation.

“Catching a shebah means sitting in the front seat of the car without feeling vulnerable, no longer feeling limited by the time of day, knowing that your little one is in safe hands when you can’t drop them off and so much more,” the website says. Passengers no longer have to dread the end of the night and figuring out how to get home safely.

Edwina says because of the low number of drivers at this early stage in Canberra many passengers are pre-booking, although they have an option of using an app. 

“By pre-booking passengers are able to connect with their driver and move the time or location of pick up if it needs to change,” Edwina says.

“We take female passengers with children, and most drivers have children’s seats and baby seats,” she says. The special seating is a strong drawcard for mothers.

 “Another service which is quite popular is having a shebah driver pick children up after school,” Edwina says. “Going to and from school, to and from doctor’s appointments and to and from the Canberra Airport.”

Shebah does not have a designated lounge at the airport, and meets fares at the 10-minute parking area. Once the service gets bigger in Canberra, Edwina hopes a designated area will be established at the airport.

The new ride-share driver estimates that she spent about $500 to join shebah. She obtained a special licence from Access Canberra and a medical certificate. Cars must be under 10 years old and are inspected for road worthiness.

Edwina begins her shift about 11 am and likes having control of the number of hours she works. Her baby is due in January. She says her female passengers are more accommodating than others might be, because even though it is an unspoken belief, they all share a desire for women to succeed in new ventures, and want the safety of women drivers.

“This is largely about safety, being safe and feeling safe. In most big cities women don’t feel as comfortable going with a male passenger. Everything in the media about women being harassed, drivers trying to get their phone numbers, this stops that behaviour. Women feel more comfortable,” she says.

Having grown up mostly on the south side of Canberra, she has found her way around the city easily and sometimes overrides her Google Maps app. 

“One of the nice things is driving through suburbs you would not ordinarily go through. For me, I kept getting drives through Red Hill which I enjoyed because of the gardens and trees.”

Founder George (Georgina) McEnroe was originally going to call the service Mum’s Taxi, then changed it, deciding the Queen of Sheba was a woman of great beauty and power. George added a h to the name of her ride share.


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48 Responses to
Edwina helps drive a safer journey for women 
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Julie Macklin 9:55 am 30 Oct 18

I will say when I was young, I don't think I ever caught a taxi by myself. Not out of fear of the driver, but that it was too expensive for me as a young person on junior wages. Amazed, reading here, how many people have that money to spare as a young person. I did share taxis (ie the fare) on occasion with friends on a night out, but I could never justify the expense by myself. If alone I caught the bus and made sure I was home (to avoid a taxi fare) before the last bus.

Tabitha Stewart 2:36 pm 26 Oct 18

You upgraded the bike 😂

Emma Steen 9:08 pm 18 Oct 18

Emily Gubler Abbey Lodder Julie Ticehurst Jess Wood this is a cool idea!

Alex SmilyLex 11:42 pm 16 Oct 18

How can I give my daughter their number. As a taxi driver I was astonished how many girls/women passengers opened up to me and explained their unfortunate experience of sexual harassment and even rape.

    Merrenda Dorsett 8:03 am 30 Oct 18

    Alex SmilyLex good morning 😊 feel free to pm either Edwina or myself, we are two of fifteen local driver's here in Canberra 😊

Christine Davis 11:22 pm 16 Oct 18

Fabulous idea. Well done.

Shebah 10:26 pm 16 Oct 18

Thank you The RiotACT! So proud of our driver community in Canberra.

Cecilia Symonds 7:57 pm 16 Oct 18

Emily Hitchman Yay women.

Yanina Ferreyra D 11:43 pm 15 Oct 18

Great idea!!

Maya123 10:16 pm 15 Oct 18

I have used Pink Taxis in UAE. The female drivers only take female passengers and families. I sort of wondered if their neighbour Saudi Arabia might now introduce such a scheme, now they allow women to drive.

Linda Fitt 8:56 pm 15 Oct 18

Brilliant idea. I have never felt safe in taxi’s on my own ever since a driver put his hand on my leg and said inappropriate things to me when I was 16.

I only ever catch taxi’s with other people - never alone.

Rebecca Rich 5:08 pm 15 Oct 18

Andrea, Omg I didn’t know this was a thing!

Vicky May 2:46 pm 15 Oct 18

Allira Roberts if you want to replace your uber

Melanie Calvert 1:20 pm 15 Oct 18

Well done Edwina!

Veronika Sain 10:00 am 15 Oct 18

Anyone calling a safer taxi service for women and children discrimination - when many feel the need for this service because of attacks and harassment by male drivers they’ve likely experienced - is a bit suspect.

Not just an Australian problem https://percolately.com/alexa/twitter-thread-reveals-why-its-safer-for-women-to-lie-to-their-male-uber-drivers/?utm_content=inf_24_4134_2&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=TWSS&tse_id=INF_bd491040cfc111e8872dc93302272904

David Murn 8:38 am 15 Oct 18

When is there a ride sharing service exclusively for men coming onto the market? Or, would people call that discrimination?

    Melanie Wisefisherman 8:53 am 15 Oct 18

    Why not start one up yourself?

    Stephen Esdaile 9:51 am 15 Oct 18

    Would it be legal?

    Samantha Venables 10:18 am 15 Oct 18

    I suspect that when males travelling with a female driver are in constant fear for their safety there might be a market for it

    David Murn 2:09 pm 15 Oct 18

    Samantha, maybe not fear for safety, but fear that a passenger may make allegations.

    Bradley Payne-moore 3:14 pm 15 Oct 18

    Dave my guy something like this dosent exist for men purely due to there being no need if someone calls it discrimination they are a part of the problem

    Wrennie Moon 3:44 pm 15 Oct 18

    David Murn having never ever had a female taxi or Uber driver I’m pretty sure you can just call the main services out there and you’ll get your sort after male driver. Women however have not had such an opportunity of a same sex driver before.

    Holly Bell 4:08 pm 15 Oct 18

    Why is there such a desperate need for same sex drivers? That’s pretty (gasp) sexist, don’t you think?

    Veronika Sain 4:48 pm 15 Oct 18

    🙄 it’s about women and children not being molested and raped going home. Clearly there aren’t currently many if any women cab drivers and share car drivers cause the job is far too dangerous for women.

    We live in a society where women are not safe. Anyone claiming sexism might like to jump up and down about normal cab drivers being all male.

    Hollie McCarthy 6:21 pm 15 Oct 18

    Like if someone did make a all male taxi service, go ahead, but can't imagine it being a successful business coz majority of males would just get a normal cab whatever's waiting there instead of calling a specific male cab company

    Hollie McCarthy 6:22 pm 15 Oct 18

    David, if you're so desperate for a male driver, just get a normal cab. They are almost always male. I've had friends be sexually assaulted and hit on by sleazy taxi drivers. One friend was only 16 and the taxi driver was some old seedy foreign dude. Do you have daughter's or sisters? If it were them feeling uncomfortable can you understand why an all female driver service is great? I get it, it seems exclusive but there isn't really a market or need for a male only taxi service seeing as majority are already and considering many girls do feel unsafe getting into a cab with a strange man, and feel better getting in with a woman who is just statistically less likely to wanna get in their pants.

    Janine Baines 10:13 pm 15 Oct 18

    Maybe when men become the ones getting regularly assaulted in Uber and taxis? But while it’s a regular occurrence for women, we are entitled to a safe space in which to travel. 🖕🏻

    Holly Bell 6:41 am 16 Oct 18

    Where is this ‘regular’ assault? I haven’t experienced it. I don’t know any other female I know who has experienced it (yes I have personally asked many females I know about this very subject). I don’t think you understand the definition of the term ‘regular’. Or assault for that matter, probably. Have you, or anyone you know, actually ever been either physically or verbally abused (I’m not saying you had one awkward car ride with some kind of weird old dude who didn’t really understand social queues), I’m saying genuine assault. Have you ever, literally ever had a male uber driver physically touch you or yell at you in a verbally abusive manner?

    Holly Bell 6:43 am 16 Oct 18

    Also - worth a watch.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Wv1nX-Pog

    Peter Gersbach 7:25 am 16 Oct 18

    I thinks she seeks out places and things to offend her. And that Whitney voice!!

    Kyle Rollinson 10:51 am 16 Oct 18

    what's a "social queue"?

    Neil Gavin 2:36 pm 17 Oct 18

    Because there is no market for it. Pretty simple. But go for it, see if you can make money and good luck.

    Merrenda Dorsett 8:06 am 30 Oct 18

    Stephen Esdaile yes it is legal and supported by the Government

    Stephen Esdaile 11:33 am 30 Oct 18

    Merrenda Dorsett - I meant the male version. I know the ladies' Uber version is legal and necessary. I suspect a male version wouldn't be legal... or necessary

    Merrenda Dorsett 12:28 pm 30 Oct 18

    Stephen Esdaile if there was a high demand due to fowl play and someone decided to start an all male Rideshare the Government surely would look into the percentage of case's

    Stephen Esdaile 12:30 pm 30 Oct 18

    Merrenda Dorsett possibly, but as a lot of people have commented, it doesn't have the reason for being that the female version does and I doubt it would survive financially.

    Merrenda Dorsett 12:30 pm 30 Oct 18

    Female driver's are only 4% of Rideshare/ Taxi in Australia, so 96% chance of a male passenger getting a male driver.

Julieanne Lamond 8:31 am 15 Oct 18

Lorana Bartels relevant to your interests! Edwina is a mate of mine 🙂

    Lorana Bartels 8:53 am 15 Oct 18

    Fantastic, thanks Julieanne Lamond. I had downloaded the app and discussed with the kids but haven't used yet.

    Edwina Wright 1:33 pm 15 Oct 18

    Happy to answer any questions you may have Lorana Bartels.

    Jenny Patton 8:24 pm 15 Oct 18

    Edwina Wright I have downloaded the app but few times I have gone to use it there have been no drivers available. Keen for this to get going as think it’s a brilliant idea. Hope you get some momentum!

    Edwina Wright 1:27 pm 26 Oct 18

    Hey Jenny Patton, I only just saw this comment! This is a common issue as we don't have a lot of drivers at the moment. It's best to prebook where you can, that way you'll be sure to get a driver. You'll also have the drivers contact details, so you can change the time if needed. Feel free to PM Shebah Drivers Canberra ACT if you need anymore help.

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