This paper draws on ethnographic research conducted 2019–2022 in three quite diverse city regions – Abuja, Cape Town and Tunis – to understand women’s lived experiences of work in the road transport sector. The strength of connection between male identity and motor-mobility in Africa is ubiquitous and has rarely been questioned by transport sector actors. Women are still largely absent from the story, constrained at least partly by hegemonic norms of femininity and an ‘affective atmosphere’ that deters female entry. However, there are occasional cases across Africa where women have dared to disrupt this masculinist enterprise, either as employees or entrepreneurs.
This study explores and compares women transport workers’ everyday experiences, drawing principally on in-depth interviews with those in customer-facing roles (taxi and bus drivers, bus conductors). Relevant public sector organisations and major transport employers were also consulted, while focus groups with community groups of men and women explored their attitudes to women employed as transport workers, and with school-girls investigated their career aspirations and views regarding employment in the sector. A final section looks to the future, post-COVID-19. Although new opportunities occasionally emerge for women, they need much more support, not only in terms of skills training, but also through flexible working opportunities, union recognition and action, microfinance and financial management training. This support is essential in order to expand the visibility of women transport workers and thus make the wider transport milieu less overwhelmingly male and more welcoming to women transport users.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive issue globally, and Cape Town, South Africa, is no exception. Here, women face numerous challenges as users of public transport.
Safety is a major concern for women using the minibus taxi system in Cape Town. Women are vulnerable to physical and sexual assault, particularly when travelling alone or at night. There have been reports of women being robbed, harassed, and even raped while using minibus taxis.
Another challenge that women face in the minibus taxi system is a lack of access to information and resources. Many women are not aware of their rights as passengers or of the services and support available to them. This can include access to emergency services or helplines or information on how to report incidents of harassment or assault.
All of these factors make it difficult for women to feel safe and secure when using public transport in Cape Town. In response to these challenges, the project “Youth engagement and skills acquisition within Africa’s transport sector: promoting a gender agenda towards transitions into meaningful work” was implemented in Cape Town (2019-2023). This action research project aimed to understand more about the vulnerability of women as both users and employees within the public transport sector, and, implement pilot projects to address these challenges.
The project team employed a multi-pronged approach, engaging female commuters and minibus taxi industry employees through skills development training, awareness campaigns, and the creation of a Safe Taxi Charter. Supported by strong local partnerships, including a gender justice non-governmental organization (NGO), academic and peer researchers, and the private sector, the project sought to foster a gender-sensitive and violence-free environment.
This article explores the impact of these interventions and highlights the potential of locally-led, interdisciplinary collaborations in driving positive change.
Click below to read the full article.
Public transport in sub-Saharan Africa provides an essential means for young women to access education and employment opportunities. However, the sector is highly gendered, and results in limiting access to women both as users, and as workers within the sector.
The project “Youth engagement and skills acquisition within Africa’s transport sector: promoting a gender agenda towards transitions into meaningful work”, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council,
commenced in 2019 and sought to broaden our understanding of the challenges faced by women as users of public transport, as well as employees within the public transport sector.
The pilot interventions targeting female users focused on addressing the primary concerns of women as revealed by the research. For female employees within the public transport sector, employment skills training was delivered to facilitate the advancement within their respective organisations or companies.
Click below to read the full technical brief.
This Safe Taxi Charter was co-created in consultation with the SANTACO Women’s Desk, the Taxi Industry and taxi passengers in Greater Cape Town.
This document was developed in the hopes of promoting a safer and more inclusive transport environment, meeting and setting the standards within the Public Transport Industry.
This is part of a pilot initiative implemented with the Bellville Operators Taxi Association (B.O.T.A.) which aims to set the benchmark of best practice in the Taxi Industry in the Western Cape.
Transaid hosted a webinar with partners from Durham University on August 11th 2022, to present an overview of the ESRC-funded research project “Youth engagement and skills acquisition within Africa’s transport sector: promoting a gender agenda towards transitions into meaningful work”, that examined the everyday challenges experienced by women in accessing public transport both as users and as employees in Abuja, Cape Town and Tunis.
Many women in these three cities experience daily challenges relating to their personal safety in the access to and use of public transport, which further constrain their opportunities to access education, employment and healthcare. These challenges are further exacerbated by a male dominated transport sector, which limits women’s influence in decision-making, service planning and delivery.
This webinar was an opportunity to share the key learnings from this project, including a more detailed understanding of the challenges faced by women in accessing public transport, and the impact of the pilot activities implemented to respond to some of the findings of the research in each of the three cities.
- Sam Clark (Transaid)
- Gina Porter (Durham University)
- Emma Murphy (Durham University)
- Fatima Adamu (Usaman Danfodio University)
- Shadi Ambrosini (Transaid)
Click below to download the webinar slides.
Cette étude de cas technique résume l’origine, la méthodologie et les conclusions d’un projet de recherche sur le rôle des associations d’opérateurs de transport dans le façonnement des services de transport en zones rurales en Afrique. Ce projet a comporté une recherche documentaire systématique, des entretiens et un atelier pour les parties concernées.
This final report contains the overall findings of the literature review, interviews and field research undertaken in order to investigate the role of transport operator associations in shaping transport services in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa. This AFCAP-funded study explored the role of both public and private transport operator associations in influencing issues such as routing, scheduling and fare setting. The research also explored the role the associations play in shaping rural access as well as the influence they have regarding road safety issues and interaction with police, authorities and other relevant actors. It builds on AFCAP’s review of rural transport services. The literature review revealed that there is very little knowledge of how transport operator associations actually work in rural areas and what positive and negative effects they have on the operation of commercially viable rural transport services. The literature review and small field research study enabled some promising
practices to be identified that show potential for replication/scale up, including strengthening associations, supporting the creation of new associations, promoting cooperation between authorities and associations, mentoring schemes for small operators and capacity building opportunities. A number of specific future research areas and opportunities for demonstration projects have also been identified.
This technical case study details the background, methodology and conclusions of a research project into the role of transport operator associations in shaping transport services in rural areas of Africa. This research involved a systematic literature review, interviews and a stakeholder workshop.
This technical case study details the background, methodology and conclusions of a project that focused on developing the Transport Manager Vocational Qualification for the South African Department of Health.
This technical case study details the background, methodology and conclusions of a 7 year project that focused on providing support to health systems of 8 provinces in South Africa.