Journal article: The lived experiences of women workers in Africa’s transport sector: Reflections from Abuja, Cape Town and Tunis

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.

Technical Brief: Youth Engagement and Skills Acquisition within Africa’s Transport Sector – promoting a gender agenda towards transitions into meaningful work

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.

Webinar slides: Public Transport Through a Gender Lens

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.

Speakers included:

  • 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.