Dec 06, 2017
Mehreen Alavi | Dec 6, 2017
Public transportation offers numerous benefits to society as a whole. Not only does it provide a means of movement for the people, it reduces carbon emissions, noise pollution, and road congestions. Public transit is also cheaper and a more convenient means of transportation for men and women alike.
Lack of stringent and appropriate measures taken to ensure female safety in the public space curtails movement for women all around the world. Women do not have access to safe and secure public transport, which significantly complicates their travel patterns. Women have to compromise on other basic needs, such as freedom of movement and economic empowerment, in order to ensure their safety.
According to the Encyclopedia of Transportation: Social Science & Policy, 2014 , “Women regardless of the level of economic development in their community or nation, have less access to better and faster transportation resources, display different or more complicated patterns of travel and are more influenced by fear of attack or harassment than are comparable men.”
Women frequently face harassment while using public transport. The fear that dissipates due to such occurrences promotes the idea that the public space belongs more to men that it does to women.
Owing to harassment, men tend to fully utilize public transportation more than women do. This brings rise to the idea that women’s transportation needs and methods of use differ from men. Access to safe public transportation has been linked to fully realizing one’s economic potential. “When more women have access to safe transportation systems, more women have access to economic opportunities,” Consul General Tarnowka insists. Women fear using public transport, which, in turn, limits their contribution to their household income.
Pakistan is no different. According to U.N. Women, Pakistani women spend almost half their income going to and from work. The number lies at 5% for men. In addition, less than one fifth of Pakistani women work, mainly due to lack of public transit at their disposal. They, generally, tend to rely on male members of their family or hired drivers to drive them.
A solution seems to lie with companies such as Safr, a rideshare company focused on female safety and empowerment. Safr employs stringent safety measures within app and while vetting its drivers to ensure a secure and comfortable means of transportation for women as drivers and riders both. Safr CEO, Syed Zain Gilani asserts, “Safr aims to empower women through freedom of movement. Women should be able to travel freely on their own terms, without fearing for their safety.”
Safe, reliable and easy-to-use public transportation is the right of the citizen of every country. The full potential for women is greatly diminished when they fear using public transit. The economy of a country cannot benefit unless half of its citizens cannot move freely without fearing harassment.