Driving lessons are giving women their ticket to freedom

 
 
 

Women have the right to choose their life’s direction. But many are denied the opportunity to pursue their ambitions. Joanie Fredericks was one of them. Growing up, her brother’s needs took priority. “Nothing much was being done about my dreams, my sister’s dreams,” Fredericks says. She gained her ticket to freedom the day she passed her driving test. “I’ve had my licence for almost 20 years and that overwhelming feeling of empowerment is something I can never forget,” Fredericks says. Now she’s ensuring more women are in the driver’s seat.

Fredericks is an influential member of the Mitchells Plain community. In 2015, she founded NEAD Community Development. The organisation helps people become self-sufficient by providing opportunities for progress. “I call myself an activist on the ground,” Fredericks says. “I believe very strongly in women’s empowerment.” Driving is her latest vehicle for upliftment. Last year, she formed Ladies Own Transport Services, offering driving lessons and mobility to residents in her area. “I believe this is going to play a big role in terms of women’s economic empowerment,” Fredericks says.

From the passenger seat, Fredericks directs the way forward. Her students are able to tackle their fears and gain confidence – not just on the roads. “If someone can use the skills they got here to go and practise it in their home, it means that we are doing something right,” Fredericks says. Thanks to her, more women are on the fast track to controlling their futures.