“To achieve gender equality we need to mobilize not just parliaments but populations, not only civil society but all of society”.
- world economic forum
Mobility is identified as a new ground for gender parity. It’s stated that anti genderlized mobility can drive a country towards a better society and economic condition. Though mobility is defined as the ability to move easily and freely, it itself is stuck in a cram of gender blindness. Sustainable development goals include mobility and aims at functioning its actual meaning without gender biases. But numerous hurdles stand in the way of the ride for gender parity.
In India a survey stated that “ women share only up to 14% of sustainable modes of transport”, this means that the rest of the transport facilities are used by men. This shows how colossal is the mobility gap between men and women. This enormous difference calls for improvement which can only be done by identifying and understanding the hurdles.
Major Issues to be Addressed:
1.Accessibility and affordability
Census data from 2011 revealed that 45% of the women in India do not travel on a daily basis because of the low rate of participation in the labor workforce and due to gender blind approach towards mobility. Statistics show that women's labor force participation is only at 15.5%. Mobility and workforce participation intersect each other, they form a vicious cycle. lack of accessibility leads to a low rate of workforce participation which restricts women from earning and being financially independent and this ultimately results in the lack of affordability. Another reason for the lack of accessibility is that transport routes are at times not in service during peak hours when women need them for the social or economic network. Increased fare of buses and metro (public transport) has resulted in the declining rate of women's mobility.
2. Safety consideration
Safety is the major hurdle in the way of mobility for women. Public Transportation and roads have been proven to be highly unsafe. In India, The National Crime Records Bureau reported that crime against women had increased from 8.8% to 11% in a span of 7 years (2007-2014). According to Times Of India, there is a 43% rise in the number of rapes and 165% rise in kidnapping of women (2015). Majority of women do not use public transport for safety concerns, which also affects their visibility in public areas. A recent survey identified that 80% of Indian women have been harassed at a bus stop. And not only this, even the most violent cases of harassment happens on public transport. As per the IHDS survey, 70% of women feel unsafe when working away from home.
Source - Newslaundry
Safety barriers and women participation in labor work is interconnected. A recent survey by the International labor organization stated that 27% of working women and 13% of non-working women in Delhi consider mobility and safety concerns as a major barrier which restricts them from participating in the workforce. Women of all ages face violence and harassment on roads which declines their mobility.
3. Social Norms
Women are restricted from stepping out from the house to work and earn. Around 20 million women have left the workforce in a span of 10 years. There are various patriarchal rules which play a crucial role in the tremendously low rate of participation. After Pakistan, India is ranked 2nd lowest in women workforce participation rate. Regardless of their choice or preference for work, women are held back by the prevailing patriarchy. Permission culture has also popped up as a major barricade in the way of mobility for women. Human development survey identified that 79.9% of women have to first ask for their husband's permission to seek medical care. The IDHS survey also states around 51% of women are beaten up for leaving home without prior information or permission. Women are bided to house chores regardless of their working status.
Women traveling with children, groceries, and other things add up to their current position in mobility.
4. Equitable allocation of space and time
There has been a rapid growth of public transport in metropolitan areas like Delhi, Mum bai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, and Hyderabad. Indian railway has shown 14 fold growth.
Bus services have increased by 86% in Mumbai, 54% in Chennai but have declined in Delhi.
Buses are the most used public transport in India ( 80%). After students, women use bus services the most but still, they face various problems.
India lacks proper allocation of space, and the transportation services are rarely available at peak hours. Trains and buses are congested and overcrowded which forced passengers to even hang out.
This unequal distribution of transport leads to low mobility of women.
How organizations are addressing the issues of gender mobility?
gendered mobility has been pinpointed as a threat to equality and social growth. To tackle this global problem, several organizations are working nationally and internationally. Different spheres of the issue are targeted to attain equality. It's seen that organizations can make a huge impact on society, not only by spreading awareness but also by working on them and one of these organizations is EVEN CARGO.
EVEN CARGO – Breaking The Glass Ceiling
Even Cargo, an all-women E-commerce logistics company works towards the visible mobility of women to achieve gender parity. Even Cargo not only encourage women to use the motorized vehicle but also ensure their safety and employment. Even cargo creates an environment in which female workers feels safe and move around without any fear of violence.
And these areas are being addressed through different modules of training.
Even Cargo: fighting the major issues
1. Making transport accessible and affordable for women -
A key issue which hampers women's mobility is unemployment, due to lack of finance, women are unable to use transport and be visible on roads. As stated before, only 13% of the women participated in the labor workforce.
Even cargo helps women to become independent by employing them in the logistics sector through proper training.
Even cargo works on women employment in logistics through different modules:
- Logistics specific training
This training provides women sufficient knowledge to function in the logistics sector, they are informed about the procedure of delivering the goods from warehouses to the point of consumption.
- Soft skill training
Even cargo focuses on the overall development of women. They are taught basic communications skills and are also prepared for functioning in society with a developed personality. This training helps them to have a healthy relationship with customers.
- Two-Wheeler training
Women are trained in riding two-wheelers
By Honda to conquer the Delhi roads with any fear. They are informed about traffic signals and rules.
Even cargo has till now trained many women who are able to earn somewhere between 8000-15000 per month, resulting in a 100% increase in their household annual income making them financially strong and ensuring financial inclusion.
This makes transportation affordable and accessible to women.
2. Ensuring Safety
“Creating safety involves much more than just responding to violence"
Even cargo buckles the safety barriers by training women in self-defense.
Not only this Even cargo has blacklisted the unsafe areas. Women working at even cargo only deliver packages in areas which are safe for them.
- Safety training
women are taught to use google maps and smartphones to avoid seeking help from strangers. Timing is considered as a major factor and it is looked upon by the team.
Women are given self-defense training to tackle any unforeseen circumstances, along with it, they are also given safety tools like pepper spray which helps them to be safe.
Not only this They are made fully aware of their rights and about the laws regarded to women.
Women helpline numbers are also mentioned during the training.
Because of these safety measures women at even cargo ride across the capital fearlessly.
This design of a safe network enables the mobility of women.
3. Subverting patriarchy
Even cargo is slaughtering the first step of gender disparity, it's seen that women with no education or less education are forced to bid by the social norms. Even cargo employs women with low academic qualifications also to empower them and make them financially independent.
This works as a cherry on the top as women can participate in economic growth and also practice the true meaning of mobility. Even cargo considers work hours which are safe and manageable for them without causing incompatibility of work and family life.
Socio-economic conditions work as a domain for functioning mobility and hence, these are the areas on which Even Cargo works.
How the government is tackling these major issues?
1.supporting women participation in decision making
The Indian government is vigorously working on women employment. Gender inclusion in mobility results in Economic inclusion and vice versa, so the field of employment has been a domain in which the government works to empower women. Employment does not only make women financially independent but also increases women visibility on roads. Employment of women can help in the development and implementation of safety policies. Government is working towards building Policies which would provide safe, secure, accessible, reliable and sustainable mobility.
Gender stereotypes, unequal access, and discrimination is broken by the government through schemes like support to training and employment programme for women ( STEP), NIRBHAYA, One stop centre scheme, Mahila Shakti Kendras, and more.
Government is working on ground level too in order to increase women employment. The education sector is also undertaken to empower women through schemes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, and more. The economic inclusion of women helps visible mobility of women.
2. Women safety in transport modes
A survey By Women Business and the law finds that only 18 economies specifically protect women from several harassments in public places. In India, the Supreme Court has legally enforced guidelines on sexual harassment in public places. A gender perspective in transport policies has been considered vital in reducing inequality in mobility. India has taken a step ahead by introducing All Women Police Station in few areas, reserved seats for women, different women coaches and more. Women are also encouraged to own a vehicle to be free from time constraints. It's stated that women use non-motorized modes of transportation ( scooter, motorbike, etc.). Jagori study reported that 51.4% of women are harassed in public transport and 49% of men witnesses women being harassed.
This shows that these steps are not enough to ensure 100% safety of women as harassment cases against women has increased rapidly.
3. Making gender mobility a core competence
Government is working towards the pedestrian infrastructure to ensure women mobility. It includes footpaths, road safety, right implementation of traffic rules and signals.
Also, the government is working on the expansion of the railway and bus services ( which are mostly used by women).
Metro has invaded as a relief, as it has affected women mobility positively.
“Bridging the gender gap in mobility means being able to respond to gender needs with adequate transport services and mobility planning”.
-CIVITAS (Policy Notes)
Delhi's CM, Kejriwal's plan to make bus and metro ride free for women:
Mr.Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi's CM recently conveyed his government's plans to make the metro and bus ride free for women in the capital.
“Women will be given free rides in DTC, cluster buses and the Delhi Metro. The government will bear their travel expenses,
-Kejriwal (at the press conference)
He stated that the top priority of government is women safety, for which they have also installed around 70,000 CCTV cameras already and are aiming to increase the number to 1.5 Lakhs. Also said that the aim of this step is to increase women mobility by encouraging them to use public transport.
This step can be seen as a weapon to tackle the 3 major barricades of mobility that are: affordability, accessibility, and safety.
As the rides would be free of cost, finance restraint would be removed which will make public transport accessible and CCTV cameras and visibility of women in public transport would increase safety.
These steps can result in positive gender mobility.
Sustainable Mobility of women should be considered as a core competence as it would ultimately result in their social and economic inclusion. According to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP),
Sustainable promotion and expansion for the mobility of women can be possible only when women's practical needs would be considered and a strategic plan would be implemented.
The future of mobility would wider breadth of women's socio-economic inclusion, leading to the overall development of the country.