Many of us prefer booking a cab instead of using the public transport, especially for occasions when we have to dress up, or more correctly, not dressed according to the societal views. However, what if your cab driver himself makes you feel uncomfortable, only because of the clothes you’re wearing? “I normally travel by public transport, but in case I’m wearing something above the knee length, I prefer booking a cab, to avoid the disgusting reactions from the outside world.” says Mishtha Mishra, a student from Zakir Hussain College, Delhi University.

To sensitise such drivers about gender, Uber collaborated with a Delhi based NGO Manas Foundation. The NGO has been working for mental health, gender equality and justice for more than 15 years.

So what if the cab driver too gives you a look you aren’t comfortable with? “I remember how on the New Year night, I booked a cab and the driver gave me a strange look, possibly because I was wearing a short dress.” adds Mishtha.

To deal with it, the multinational transportation networking company Uber, in collaboration with an NGO, has decided to sensitise its drivers about gender. Many of the cab drivers belong to the rural areas, and hence, they simply cannot be at ease with girls wearing shorts or dresses. Therefore, to sensitise these drivers about gender, Uber collaborated with a Delhi based NGO Manas Foundation. The NGO has been working for mental health, gender equality and justice for more than 15 years. To make public transport safe for women, the organisation has developed a behaviour change module, in order to engage men in the purpose.

 

The programme had already kicked off in 2018 and since then 6000 Uber drivers have been sensitised. Now in 2019, the company has set its target to train double the number of drivers. “At Uber, we believe in the transformative potential of technology to create these new alternatives, but at the same time, we recognise that we still have a lot to contribute, specifically in terms of how to confront structural and systemic social phenomena such as gender-based violence. We also understand that safe transportation for women has a huge impact on the choices they make and the opportunities they can access. That is why, to further reiterate our commitment towards building safer cities and the safety of all those who use the Uber app, we are scaling up our nationwide gender sensitization workshops delivered by Manas Foundation,” Pavan Vaish, head of operations, Uber India and South Asia, told Business Standard. 

Twice in a day, the sessions are conducted for six days in a week. Per session is attended by 40-50 drivers and according to the company, they have been able to reach thousands of drivers in the country now.

Twice in a day, the sessions are conducted for six days in a week. Per session is attended by 40-50 drivers and according to the company, they have been able to reach thousands of drivers in the country now. “We are very excited to scale up this distinctive programme with Uber to engage men in taking ownership of the safety of their women passengers. These sessions involve participatory activities that clearly explain the concept of gender and how the laws governing gender discrimination and abuse have changed over the last few years. The training helps clarify what encompasses sexual harassment and it is this understanding of the issue that has been crucial to the change in treatment of women — as commuters and members of their own families,” Monica Kumar, co-founder, Manas Foundation, told Business Standard.

“Sensitising drivers over gender might prove to be a strong step in the transformation of our society. No matter if its 21st century, we in India, have to still think about wearing clothes that are not open, short and what not.” says Srishti Singh, a student from Deshbandhu College, Delhi University.

Read More: What A Long-Distance Cab Ride Taught Me About All-Women Road Trips

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