According to National Crime Records Bureau, the rate of crime against women has increased by 44% from 2011 to 2015. Safety is a growing concern for us as a society and when it comes travelling in a cab at night, women are extra cautious. The incidents that have happened recently have raised concerns about cab services, so in order to ensure safety of women passengers, Uber, a multinational ride-sharing company has introduced a gender sensitisation programme for its driver-partners.
Uber has partnered with Manas Foundation, a New Delhi-based NGO working in the field of mental health, gender equity and justice, to educate its driver-partners about sexual harassment of women. As part of its gender sensitisation initiative that started in 2018, Uber is organising sessions for its driver-partners.
While speaking to POPxo, Monica Kumar, Co-Founder, Manas Foundation shared, "Nearly 1 in 3 women around the world experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, and we know that everyone has an important role to play in addressing this global epidemic. This issue impacts all genders around the world, including those associated with the Uber community. We are very excited to scale up this distinctive programme with Uber to engage men in taking ownership of the safety of their women passengers. The training helps clarify what encompasses sexual and street harassment and it is this understanding of the issue that has been crucial to the change in the treatment of women-–as commuters and members of their own families."
The brand is aware that violence against women is a widespread problem in India, one that needs to be addressed with a multi-sectoral and collaborative approach. Pavan Vaish, Head of Central Operations, India and South Asia, said, "At Uber, we believe in the transformative potential of technology to create safer rides, but at the same time, we recognise that we still have to work together across sectors to be a part of the solution for trying to reduce gender-based violence. Our goal is to enable safe transportation for women, which in turn has a huge impact on the choices they make and the opportunities they can access. We are very pleased that our gender sensitisation initiative has been very positively received by our driver-partners who display their certificates with great pride inside their cars."
On November 25, in order to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the brand pledged to exponentially expand the programme across India. November 25 also marked the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
What has changed in a year? Kicked off nationally by reaching more than 6,000 driver-partners in 2018, this initiative has come a long way. In the past one year, gender sensitisation workshops have been conducted for over 50,000 driver-partners across eight cities (Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Bengaluru and Chennai) with more than 14,000 driver-partners in the national capital (Delhi) alone. The brand also claims to have noticed immense behavioural changes among driver-partners attending these workshops.
POPxo attended one of the gender awareness workshops that was conducted in Gurugram on November 22 to know more about the training programme.
The workshops focus on bringing about behavourial change. The interactive session that takes place in five parts emphasises on:
Monica shared, "We treat the drivers as partners and not perpetrators. Most of the training takes place according to city-wise dynamics and how that particular city understands the concept of women empowerment." Every driver-partner attending the workshop is awarded with a certificate (which we do see on displays in the cabs).
Uber has also introduced several innovative features to ensure women's safety. These are the tech-based safety features, hosted within the Safety Toolkit. One of these is the SOS button. This is a push button feature that the passengers can tap in case of emergency. The button will send out an instant message to the incident response teams. In fact, the feature also connects the passenger to the nearest police control room.
We sure need more initiatives like these to make the world a better place for women. We hope that soon women won't have to think twice about booking a cab alone at night.
Featured Image: Instagram and Uber
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