When Roqaya Khalili wants to visit friends or relatives, or do the weekly shopping at the supermarket, she picks up the phone and dials a four-digit number.
A few minutes later, a bright green taxi draws up outside Roqaya’s home in a suburb of west Tehran.
At the wheel is Sahar Foghani, one of around 700 women cab drivers in Tehran who are making a living, or supplementing the family income, working for a taxi agency run by women, for women.
It’s a scenario that would be unthinkable in nearby Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving.
Women’s rights in Iran may have some way to go. But they are free to go out on their own, to drive their own vehicles, or to take taxis driven by men if they like.
But Roqaya Khalili is one of around 40,000 registered customers who prefer to move around in cabs with women in the driving seat.
The article illustrates another of the many contradictions remaining in the nation that characterizes itself officially as the leading voice of Islam in the world – but, gained its first real independence from colonial shackles led by a secular insurgency.