Flone Initiative article on importance of hiring more women in the transport industry. (Abiria Magazine, November 2016)

Flone Initiative article on importance of hiring more women in the transport industry. (Abiria Magazine, November 2016)

Posted by FloNe Initiative on Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flone Initiative article on importance of hiring more women in the transport industry. (Abiria Magazine, November 2016)

Posted by FloNe Initiative on Thursday, March 23, 2017

 

In spite of the increased cases of sexual harassment and assault cases of women and girls in public spaces, urban and transportation planning processes are still not paying any attention to gender. This year’s theme for International Women’s Day—Be Bold For Change, should enthuse urban and transportation planning to recognize gender equity as an integral part of sustainable cities.

Unsafe and uncomfortable public transportation systems always coerce women to use private modes of transport. This is caused by the failure of urban local bodies to collect gender inclusive data while preparing their city mobility plans, thus they remain blind to women’s mobility patterns and needs.

Today, the concerns of women’s safety are summarized under public spaces. For instance, the sustainable development goal on gender seeks to “eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres”. In spite of this it is important to recognize that women and girls are still victims of violence in transportation systems—when walking and cycling or accessing public transport stops/terminals, waiting at the bus stops, terminals and railway stations, boarding and alighting buses or trains and travelling in these vehicles.

Thus the need to ensure that women’s safety concerns are considered and integrated by urban transport authorities during the planning and design of our transit systems, our streets, bus stops, railway stations, terminals, buses and trains, and existing initiatives are monitored and evaluated.

In addition it is crucial for women led organizations and urban transport planners to work together to address the physical and social aspects of gender in city planning and transportation systems.

Women are more in public spaces only as commuters but not as service providers.  According to a report by the International Labour Organization, transport is one of several sectors that have traditionally been regarded as ‘no place for women’. In 2005, 6.85% women were employed in the transportation sector in India compared to 19% men. Such disparities are evident across many countries; increased women presence at different levels in public transport authorities has the potential of mainstreaming gender within the organization, since this will ensure women’s issues are brought to the forefront during service delivery and infrastructure development.

It is in this regard that Flone Initiative is implementing the Women In Transportation Program (WIT) which seeks to close the work force gap in the transportation industry by promoting life long careers in transportation for women. The WIT program hopes to ultimately works to attract, retain and advance women in the industry by proving a forum for the exploration of technical, policy, financial, and political aspects of emerging transportation issues while affording women in the transport industry outstanding networking opportunities.

This International Women’s Day, being bold will entail recognizing women’s role in achieving sustainable transportation goals and reducing work force gaps, so that women concerns are not ignored nor treated as special cases, but as vital part of city transportation design, planning and governance.

Your Support Counts!
Our new Women in Transportation program works to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it.
Good news! For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.
Try our new donation platform here!

Walking on a Dangerous Path!

Over the last two months or so, Kenya has been dealing with a lot of issues among them being the proposed miscellaneous Amendment Bill 2016 that seeks to lower sexual consent from 18 years to 16 years.

A lot has been said about this bill, from the justifications to the rage of those who clearly say “how dare you”. Being in the democratic country that we are, we can all give our opinion, we can all shout to the top of the roof, but the bottom line is we can’t afford to lower the age.

In a country where sexual violence has been on the rise and more so defilement and rape cases what validation can there ever be? A 2010 National Survey prevalence of sexual, physical and emotional violence indicated that nearly one in three Kenyan girls experiences sexual violence before they hit 18 years. Dr Mutunga, the former Kenya Chief Justice reported that there were 6,101 cases reported 2014 and 7,727 in 2015.This are numbers and they don’t lie. FIDA Kenya in their wisdom is for the amendment and their argument includes that there is a conflict where the alleged defiler is also below 18 years.

But the question is what % of the number is a minor vs a minor?

If there were no rape, then maybe then age could be lowered hopefully with the confidence that people would respect a “no” from women or men. But that’s not the case.

A 16 year old girl is ideally in form two in the Kenya education system. Wouldn’t lowering the consent age be giving our children to the wind? The pro amendment team claims that not lowering the consent doesn’t mean that the minors aren’t engaging in sex.

But isn’t hypocritical that we want to lower the age because they will have sex anyway.  Yet,  we have continuously hide behind morals by constantly refusing to include sexual reproductive health(SRHR) rights in the school curriculum citing worry that it will increase  promiscuous behaviors.

Let’s not be blind to the reality that the defiler could be a minor yet the law binds the magistrate or the judge to make a judgment that the defiler is an adult, nor disputing the fact that some adults have manipulated their kids and the system to punish their daughter’s boyfriends. But still is this a good reason to lower the consensual age?

 

It is time we looked for seriously solutions other than condoning vices that continue to thrive in our society. What happens when we realize that 14 years olds are having sex with 14 years old? Are we going to lower the consent age again too?

A 16 years old boy or girl is still a kid. We surely can’t afford to open this Pandora box in a country where pedophiles roams on the streets and boast of their prowess on social media.

As opposed to lowering the consent, how about we do the following;

  1. Include comprehensive sex education in the school curriculum-Abstinence is not the only thing that should be taught under sex education. Having kids love who they are and embrace their sexuality is paramount.
  2. Every stakeholder to play their part. In the past, parents seem to have left the role to teachers at school and the teacher to parents at home. There is a gap that  has to be filled
  • Youth friendly space be made at school, police station and in the neighborhood. This spaces need to be equipped with information on sex and responsible childhood.

Finally Kenyans, we can’t have consensual age lowered whether we put the 3 suggestions in place or not.

 

 

 

PHOTO: courtesy of Popular resistance Organization

PHOTO: courtesy of Popular resistance Organization

Don’t just standby, Help!

Violence is an everyday occurrence, yet many keep on ignoring it and denying its existence. Lately the most common is happening in public spaces mainly against women and girls in urban and rural areas, in developed and developing countries.

Sadly, women and girls experience various types of sexual violence in public spaces, from unwanted sexual remarks and touching to rape. This occurs on the streets, in and around public transportation terminals, schools and workplaces, in public sanitation facilities, water and food distribution sites and parks.

The main victims of harassment in public spaces, in the street as well as on public transport, are young women. In Lima, 9 of every 10 women between 19 and 29 years of age has been victim to street harassment (2013). In Bogota and Mexico City, 6 out of every 10 women have experienced some sexual aggression on public transport (2014). In the case of Chile, 5 out of every 10 women between 20 and 29 years of age have declared to have experienced sexual harassment on the street (2015). This is according to Gender Equality Observatory.

It is important for every one of us to take up the role of ensuring that this statistics go down. Reducing the level of violence in society will require many more men to step up as active bystanders since most violence is committed by men, and men are more likely to listen to another man than they are to a woman. These two facts make it essential that more men get involved as active bystanders intervening to stop other men from being violent. It is also important to mobilize men with power, including government, community, and business leaders, as well as policy-makers, to think of themselves as active bystanders in the effort to end violence. Taking steps as an active bystander is often not easy, especially for men who are taking action to stop other men’s violence. It is important for men to identify ways they can support each other in their efforts to be more active bystanders.

Below are some actions we take to help stop the violence against our women and girls in public spaces.

Talk to the victim, ignore the attacker

Always engage the person in a conversation to help them feel safe and calm. Find out how they are. Hollaback says that “even a knowing look to the person being harassed can reduce their trauma and experience of isolation”.

Confront the harasser

Let the harasser know that what they are doing is wrong and you will not just stand by and do nothing.

Talk about something random

Talk to the person about a topic that will take their mind off what has just happened.

Keep building the safe space

Keep eye contact with them ignoring the attackers. Ignoring the attacker makes him feel less insignificant.

Keep the conversation going until the attacker leaves. If possible take them to a safe space

Your Support Counts!
Our new Women in Transportation program works to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it.
Good news! For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.
Try our new donation platform here!

 

Women like men have the right to feel safe and to live freely

Traditionally, transport industry is one of several sectors that have been regarded as ‘no place for women’. Today this is still the case in many countries across the world.

Nowadays, a few employers are becoming aware of the fact that they need the expertise and views women bring to their businesses. Sadly, most employers are still oblivious that in order to realize economic growth and social equity, businesses need both men and women involvement in decision making.

Globally, the transport industry holds great potential for women. Yes, it is an industry that is male dominated, but women bring a unique perspective to the issues facing a growing global transportation system. When women are given an equal opportunity to succeed in transportation careers they unlock new pathways for growth and profitability. Such an example is Elizabeth Marami who at only 27 years of age is the envy of many as Kenya’s first woman marine pilot.

Public transport service providers operating in today’s competitive environment can no longer afford to take no notice of women underutilized skills as employees. Integrating more women in all areas of transportation will make it easier to communicate the actual issues at hand and operators will achieve the competitive edge they seek over business rivals. Similarly, it is vital that all transport systems provide for the whole community thus operators can no longer afford to ignore the particular needs of their primary customers.

It is appropriate that women’s needs are acknowledged and considered within the overall structure of service delivery. It cannot be stressed sufficiently the importance of women, both as employees and customers of public transport. It is time for women to take the opportunity to put their views forward, to express their opinion and to make sure that they get what they want and need to make public transport better and more workable for everyone.

There are increased opportunities for women in the transport industry in operational transport, logistics and technological sectors thus the need to encourage them to join the industry. Most importantly, there is a need to make sure that women have a safe, fair and healthy working environment. This will be possible by addressing these important issues that limits women involvement in the industry. Such issues includes sexual harassment and violence in the workplace, challenges of balancing between family and work, long working hours, health and safety at work, poor facilities and informal and precarious work just to mention a few.According to International Labour Union (2013) report poor working conditions render the transport sector especially unappealing to women, most notably in relation to working time, shift-working (24/7), and the location of employment (e.g. on-board a vessel at sea, driving a truck long distances from home, or assignment to foreign airport under the multi-base crewing strategy of an international airline). The lack of attraction is reinforced by gender stereotypes – prejudices about what women can do and what men can do – that are perhaps most deeply embedded in male- dominates sectors such as transport.

Thus there is dire need to ensure that this trends change as soon as possible. In this regard, Flone initiative – a woman led organization working towards ending violence against women and girls in public spaces with a focus on the transport industry has initiated the Women in Transportation Program (WIT). WIT’s mission is to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it. WIT seeks to close the work force gap in the transportation industry by promoting life long careers in transportation for women. WIT ultimately works to attract, retain and advance women in the industry.

The WIT program will promote collaboration and coalition building among women professionals for policy advocacy and action, which will recognize and support women’s contribution in transportation development. Through the program Flone Initiative hopes to ensure that woman’s needs as both commuters and employees in the transport sector are secured.

Join us in making this a reality!

Your Support Counts!
Our new Women in Transportation program works to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it.
Good news! For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.
Try our new donation platform here!

 

Battling Sexual Harassment in Kenyan Public Transport: The Flone Initiative: An Interview with Co-Founder Naomi Mwaura

by nairobiplanninginnovations

Sexual harassment in public transport is a global problem.  Kenya is no exception. Every day tens of thousands of women making trips in Public Service Vehicles (matatus) face unacceptable behavior from their fellow male passengers making mobility a dangerous and uncomfortable experience.

In an effort to make travel safer and more comfortable for women, one Kenyan organization, the FLONE Initiative, is combating sexual harassment on public transportation in Kenya . NPI bloggers Seth  Kerr and Jacqueline Klopp conducted an extended interview with Naomi Mwaura, a co-founder of The FLONE Initiative. Naomi not only helps combat sexual harassment through this Initiative but is also committed to helping all people in Kenya have access to equitable transportation as a dedicated staff member for the Institute for Transportation Development Policy (ITDP) which recently set up shop in Nairobi.

Here is the full interview

d4fcf959-0be2-4e38-b6b2-8e10f7d0345d

Women have played an integral role in the development and advancement of transportation. From wagons and horse carts to bicycles, automobiles, trucks, trains, ships, airplanes and space vehicles, women have served as inventors, pilots, engineers, drivers, administrative professionals, conductors, executives and in a host of other vital occupations.

Today, increasing numbers of women are making a critical difference in the safe and efficient movement of people and goods throughout the world. Flone Initiative wishes to salute all such women for overcoming the odds and proving that women can do it.

Transport jobs can be well paid, rewarding and offer long-term career opportunities. Unfortunately, and unacceptably, few women are employed in these jobs and some positions fall below the standard of decent work. Mostly, Jobs in the transport sector are highly gendered and unequal, as is access to transport services. As a result, women’s voices are all too often neglected when it comes to transport planning and the pursuit of decent work.

Sadly, transport industry is still regarded as ‘no place for women’ in many countries/sectors around the world. Women in the transport sector often find themselves stuck in low(er) paid status jobs with few, if any, opportunities for career development.

Additionally, violence against women working in the transport industry is one of the most important factors limiting the attraction of transport jobs for women thus making breaking the retention of those who are employed in the transport sector quite difficult if not impossible.Whether white collar or blue collar – engineer, planner, or skilled construction worker jobs in transportation are still disproportionately held by men.

So as to avert the above situation, Flone Initiative conceptualized the Women in Transportation Program aimed at celebrating the significant role women play in the transport industry, reflect on the current gender diversity and improve it further through initiatives, events and activities.

Through the Program, Flone initiative hopes to:

  • Attract more women by highlighting the careers on offer in the transport industry
  • Showcase the contributions women have made, and continue to make in the industry
  • Provide opportunities for personal development and progression at all levels
  • Run inspirational and thought-provoking events
  • Inspiring the next generation by:
  • Tackling the lack of understanding about what the transport industry stands for
  • Demonstrating why transport can be for anyone and everyone
  • Education, particularly of young people about the variety of roles on offer

Join us in making this a reality!

Your Support Counts!
Our new Women in Transportation program works to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it.
Good news! For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.
Try our new donation platform here!

 

_we-dont-get-into-mamatatus-with-just-men-1

As Flone Initiative celebrates her fifth birthday, we wish to thank all our members and partners for the mileage we covered so far through your support. Though your support and the dedication of our staff we have been able to create significant changes in our Kenyan society.

So far we have been able to carry out several programs such as the mentorship and bodily integrity program which targeted adolescents (both girls and boys) in high schools. The program focused mainly on academics, life after high school and career opportunities, bodily integrity, sexual and reproductive health. Additionally, through our sustainability program we have been able to be financially sustainable by undertaking various income generating activities such as:  Organizing hilarious and candid Theatrical performances   selling of Flone merchandise (African outfits, t-shirts and jewellery). All this has been possible through your kind support.

Furthermore, in November 2014, Flone Initiative Founding Director was among the lead organizers of the #MyDressMyChoice protest that highlighted the sexual violence meted on women in the Kenyan public transport industry. The protest led to the passing of the anti-stripping law that made the stripping of women punishable to 10 years in jail. On November 19th, a lady was violently assaulted in Kayole public transport network and six offenders were arrested. Flone Initiative has been closely monitoring and mobilizing women to attend the court case hearings to ensure justice is served. As a result of these incidents, Flone Initiative initiated the Usalama wa Uma program aimed at creating safe spaces for women and girls who use the public transport.

Through the Usalama wa Uma Program, we have been able to engages public transport operators by offering them trainings on gender equality and prevention of sexual violence, improving customer service, and in personal and professional development. So far, 312 public transport operators from Bungoma, Githurai 45, Kisumu, Nyeri and Nakuru have been trained.  These are public transport networks with most recurring incidences of violence. Through the program men are encouraged to stop perpetuating violence and instead work to ensure the vices stop.

Moreover, Flone Initiative is also implementing the Women In Transportation Program (WITrans) aimed at advancing the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it. WIT seeks to close the work force gap in the transportation industry by promoting life long careers in transportation for women. WIT ultimately works to attract, retain and advance women in the industry. Our first order of business is an upcoming WIT Conference, which will focus on critical transportation themes. The conference will provide a forum for the exploration of technical, policy, financial, and political aspects of emerging transportation issues while affording women in the transport industry outstanding networking opportunities.

As we continue to work to create safe commuter spaces for the Kenyan women and girls, your partnership and support will be highly appreciated. We say Asante  Sana!

Dates worth saving;

October 11th, 2016: #Njeris case hearing shall be at Milimani law courts from 9.am.( Nyeri who was 18yrs at her death was from Gatundu North. She was raped and killed at Kikuyu by a known perpetrator)

September 20th, 2016: #MyDressMyChoice Kayole striping case has been on-going. The 6 perpetrators are still in jail after being denied bail again. The mention of their case shall be at Makadara Courts on the 20/9/2016 at 9.am

5th October, 2016: #MyDressMyChoice Kayole striping case hearing  at Makadara Courts at 9.am.

Let us join hands to ensure justice is finally served!

Your Support Counts!
Our new Women in Transportation program works to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it.
Good news! For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.
Try our new donation platform here!

 

coworker-staring-at-behind-sexually-1024x682

Sometimes sexual harassment occurs without our knowledge!

Come be part of a gender forum like no other courtesy of Flone Initiative and Heinrich Böll Stiftung this Thursday 29th September 2016 at Lilian Towers, Nairobi Safari Club from 4:00pm – 6:30pm | Free entry to all audiences.

The goal of this forum is to bring together scholars, activists and women who have faced sexual harassment,to push the dialogue of rights further and explore alternative ways in which sexual harassment can be addressed.

Key discussion points:

  • Should sexual harassment be a political priority?
  • What are some of the ways that sexual harassment takes shape?
  • What are some of the ways that women can be assured of justice?

Invited Speakers:

  1. Esther Muthoni Passaris OGW
  2. Naomi Njeri Mwaura – Flone Initiative, a workforce development organization working in the matatu industry
  3. Fredrick J.K. Nyagah – Gender Advisor in Global Communities (formerly CHF International) and Founder National Chairman of MenEngage Kenya Network
  4. Saida Ali – International Policy Analyst
  5. Simon Mbevi – Founder and Director of Transform Nations

Moderator: Patience Nyange – Senior Human Rights Officer, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights

Format of Discussion:

A panel discussion contextualizes issues to the audience. This is infused with public dialogue and Q&A where the audience engages with the panel and forum.

Your Support Counts!

Flone Initiative  Usalama wa Uma program aims to create safe spaces for women and girls who use the public transport by engaging public transport operators by offering them training on gender equality and prevention of sexual violence, improving customer service, and in personal and professional development.
Good news! For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.
Try our new donation platform here!

d4fcf959-0be2-4e38-b6b2-8e10f7d0345d

The problem for Kenya transport modes is not the network but the road’s standard and their maintenance; it is primarily a quality rather than a quantity issue. In most parts, the road network consists of paved, gravel and earth roads. The dilapidated, dirty state of public transport vehicles and terminals coupled with the poor service makes mobility for women a nightmare. Additionally, security is a serious mobility constraint for women, this because they suffer verbal and   physical harassment and theft in public spaces.

Though poor infrastructure and limited transport services hamper male and female mobility, women suffer additional socio-cultural constraints. Many women travel by foot in the village thus wasting a lot of time which could have been used undertaking productive work. Furthermore, the available modes of transport available in most rural areas are either bicycles or motorcycles which are culturally regarded as unfit for women. Sadly very few women in Kenya owns motorized mode of transport, thus have to depend on public transport or travel by foot to reach markets to sell produce , buy food and to engage in jobs in urban centres.

Motorized transport costs more per trip for women because they need to use more expensive modes of transport. Consequently women are forced to dig deeper in their pockets to access the safe and comfortable mode of transport. Lack of appropriate transport severely limits female access to employment, markets, education and health care. Subsequently, women’s productivity is greatly affected by the mode of transport available.

Flone Initiative hope to create a situation where women and girls can comfortably use the available transport modes thus enhancing their productivity.Let’s all be Safe!

Dates worth saving;

October 11th, 2016: #Njeris case hearing shall be at Kilimani law courts from 9.am.( Nyeri who was 18yrs at her death was from Gatundu North. She was raped and killed at Kikuyu by a known perpetrator)

September 20th, 2016: #MyDressMyChoice Kayole striping case has been on-going. The 6 perpetrators are still in jail after being denied bail again. The mention of their case shall be at Makadara Courts on the 20/9/2016 at 9.am

5th October, 2016: #MyDressMyChoice Kayole striping case hearing  at Makadara Courts at 9.am.

Let us join hands to ensure justice is finally served!

Your Support Counts!
Our new Women in Transportation program works to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it.
Good news! For our U.S.A supporters, your donation is now tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S.A law.
Try our new donation platform here!