On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Uber announced that it has gender sensitized over 1 lakh 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 comes at a time when in the past there been instances of women complaining about drivers misbehaving with passengers.
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. This session helped drivers understand, and be sensitive, to the needs of women riders and was provided to drivers on Uber platform across 34 Indian cities.
“They also learn how to modify their professional behavior to make women feel safer and commit to being a part of the solution,” said an official from Uber. According to Uber, 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.
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 1,00,000 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.”
As per an impact assessment carried out by Manas Foundation, a majority of drivers have responded positively to the sessions and have implemented learning’s 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.”
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.
Another driver Arun Sharma, who is active on the Uber platform said, “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.