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.
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Our new Women in Transportation program works to advance the transport industry and the professional women who are a growing part of it.
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