Gurugram: On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Uber announced that it has gender sensitized over 100,000 drivers on its platform. As an industry-first initiative, it now plans to expand this drive to non-Uber drivers in partnership with various state governments. This initiative is part of the company’s continued commitment to enhance safety while helping #BreakTheBias by making public spaces safer for women.
Uber has partnered with the Manas Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO working in the field of mental health, gender equity, and justice, to run gender sensitization sessions since 2018. These sessions help drivers understand, and be sensitive, to the needs of women riders. Drivers on the Uber platform across 34 Indian cities have benefited from this initiative.
The sessions are delivered by experts from Manas Foundation to educate drivers on how men and women use public transport systems, the extent of harassment women face in public spaces, and highlight the role of drivers in addressing the issue. They also learn how to modify their professional behavior to make women feel safer and commit to being a part of the solution.
Speaking on the partnership, Prabhjeet Singh, President, India, and South Asia, Uber India said, “Everyone needs to participate in making transport and public spaces safer, particularly for women. Our partnership with Manas Foundation has been a great success, and we have received a positive response from drivers who have taken part in gender sensitization sessions. Uber is committed to setting the highest standards of safety in the industry and we have now decided to extend this training to commercial drivers beyond our platform. Scaling this program further in partnership with more state governments is the right thing to do, and will further improve women’s safety.”
Highlighting the need for gender sensitization, Monica Kumar, Co-Founder, Manas Foundation said, “Our partnership with Uber has helped enhance safety on the platform by resulting in behavioral change. We view drivers as important agents of change in the journey towards making public transport safe and accessible for women. In our conversations with drivers, they’ve recognized the impact of these sessions resulting in sensitive and empathetic behavior towards women and making them small changes that help women feel more secure during rides. The 100,000 mark is an important milestone in our partnership and we hope to positively contribute towards scaling this program further to non-Uber drivers in the near future.”
Appreciation from thought-leaders
Sharing her support for the partnership, Rekha Sharma, Chairperson, National Commission of Women (NCW), said, “I congratulate Uber India in achieving this milestone of 100,000 gender sensitized partners. They have worked with dedication and purpose to make this happen along with Manas Foundation despite the challenge brought about by COVID-19. As more State governments look towards mandating such sessions for commercial drivers, such interventions will further scale and positively impact citizens’ lives by making public transport safer. I hope more companies will follow suit and contribute towards creating safer public spaces for women.”
Drivers’ response to the training
As per an impact assessment carried out by Manas Foundation, a majority of drivers have responded positively to the sessions and have implemented learnings in their work lives.
Mohammad Salim, a driver active on the Uber platform, believes that after attending the training session, he has become more conscious of his behavior towards female passengers and follows guidelines given by Uber diligently. He said, “The session was really impactful. I’ve now started to spread awareness about the in-app emergency button, and other safety features. I try to ensure that all passengers, especially women, feel comfortable throughout the trip, and support them in any way possible. I am happy that my Uber rating has gone up and passengers feel happy riding with me.”
Arun Sharma, another driver active on the Uber platform, shared that the impact of the session is visible in how he engages with his passengers. He added, “I have learned a lot more about what constitutes respectful behavior towards women. I am now more focused on creating a safe environment for passengers and informing them that I have attended a gender sensitization session. I feel I understand passengers better and they are also satisfied on the trips they take with me.”
Uber has continued to harness technology to enhance rider safety on its platform through a host of safety features such as two-way feedback and ratings, 24X7 safety support, and an in-app emergency button, among others.