Moscow metro makes history, hires women drivers after rule changes

Moscow's metro has hired its first female train drivers following changes in Russian laws that initially banned women from applying for, or doing certain jobs.

The Russian capital’s transport system, said in a statement that: “The first female electric train drivers in modern history started working for the Moscow metro.”

The ban on access for women to many professions was widely criticised and a labour ministry decree in September last year cut the number of exclusively male professions from 456 to about 100.

Moscow's metro stopped hiring women drivers in the early 1980s. The last female driver left the service in 2014.

The profession had been added to a list of jobs considered too "physically demanding" or "dangerous" for women to do.

Other jobs removed from the list include lorry drivers and boat skippers.

Sergei Sobyanin, mayor of Moscow and the city's transport department said in a joint statement that 12 of 25 women joining the network had completed their training, received permits and were ready to "take the first passengers".

Female drivers have the option of choosing the uniform they feel most comfortable in, depending on "what is more convenient for them to drive the train - in a skirt or in trousers", the statement added.

The first group of applicants was chosen early last year. Only women between the ages of 22 and 43 who were already working as underground staff - ticket salespersons, cleaners, station masters and managers - were eligible to apply.