Kerala’s Radhamani Amma Has 11 Driving Licenses, Got Mechanical Engineering Diploma At 72

In India, deep-rooted stereotypes depicting women as incompetent drivers contribute to the reluctance to embrace gender diversity in the transportation sector. How many female bus, taxi and autorickshaw drivers do we see on a daily basis? Very few, to be honest. If such is the case with smaller vehicles, imagine the glaring disparity in gender representation when it comes to heavy vehicles. This ingrained bias hampers the normalization of women driving heavy vehicles in the first place.

However, 72-year-old Radhamani Amma, who is popularly known as Mani Amma in Kerala, is defying both age and gender norms. According to Indian Express, she holds 11 different driving licenses including that of cars, two-wheelers, three-wheelers, buses, lorries, trailers, cranes, tractors, forklifts, excavators and road rollers.

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Mani Amma first started driving after her husband suggested her to do so. Her first lessons were on an ambassador back home.

“Back then, women drivers, especially those of heavy vehicles and buses, were minimal. Learning to drive was more challenging in those days compared to now. People were curious to see a woman driving heavy vehicles,” she said.

She obtained her first four-wheeler license in 1981 and her heavy vehicle license in 1984.

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“We established a heavy vehicle driving school thereafter. At that time, obtaining a heavy vehicle licence in Kerala was challenging. We trained individuals and assisted them in obtaining licences in Mangalore in Karnataka. It dawned on us that we should strive to obtain heavy vehicle licences in Kerala. Consequently, my husband pursued this at various levels and after two years of legal proceedings, we received permission to establish the first heavy vehicle driving school in Kerala, registered under my name. That’s how I ventured into the driving field,” Mani Amma revealed.

In 2004, Mani Amma’s husband passed away. After facing initial hiccups, she decided to run the driving school herself.

“The A2Z driving school later became the A2Z driving institute, teaching how to operate all types of heavy equipment. The one decision I made back then has proven to be right and today, the institute has grown to such a level,” she expressed.

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Despite her age, Radhamani Amma continued her education, her latest academic achievement being getting a Mechanical Engineering Diploma at the age of 72.

“There’s a prevalent notion that certain achievements have age restrictions. I aim to challenge and overturn that notion first! Learning, in my opinion, is an eternal voyage,” she said.

Mani Amma’s story reinforces women’s potential and capabilities in fields that are traditionally dominated by men. May her tribe grow!

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