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

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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!

 

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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!