Voting Closed:

CREATING SAFE SPACES

Lobby seeks women-friendly public transport in Machakos

Some women said they fail to report due to a lack of clear complaints mechanisms.

In Summary

• Flone Initiative, an organisation that advocates for the safety of women in transport, did a survey of the industry in Machakos county to find out the challenges that women working in transport face.

On November 12, the organisation presented its survey report to the Deputy Governor of Machakos County, Francis Maliti at his offices.

Matatus pick passengers at the Likoni terminus. Flone Initiative is lobbying for the development of a sexual harassment policy in the County of Machakos to protect women and vulnerable groups in the sector.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT AGAINST WOMEN: Matatus pick passengers at the Likoni terminus. Flone Initiative is lobbying for the development of a sexual harassment policy in the County of Machakos to protect women and vulnerable groups in the sector.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

The Kenyan transport industry is considered by many to be a male-dominated industry that has little space for women’s participation.

Even though the industry has grown over the years, giving employment to millions of Kenyans, many women still struggle to penetrate and work in the sector and its connected spaces.

Flone Initiative, an organisation that advocates for the safety of women in transport, did a survey of the industry in Machakos county to find out the challenges that women working in transport face.

On November 12, the organisation presented its survey report to the Deputy Governor of Machakos County, Francis Maliti at his offices.

They found that 51 percent of the total women interviewed (39) were discouraged from joining the sector due to the fact that it is indeed male-dominated and tailored to accommodate men more than women.

“The main entry challenges are gender stereotypes on the suitability of women for transport jobs, male-centered ways of publicising job opportunities and the cost involved in fulfilling entry requirements like acquiring a certificate of good conduct and a PSV badge,” read the survey.

The survey also found that women were mostly considered suitable for jobs such as vendors, SACCO clerks, and stage attendants as opposed to driver and conductor jobs.

In the past years, most of the strategies to create equal and fair access to public transportation for women have been focused on improving women’s personal security.

“Formal surveillance, with the presence of on-site security personnel, has been found as the most effective strategy to reduce sexual harassment at transit stations,” reads the survey.

However, the sector still continues to be unsafe for women to work in and use.

Some 46 percent of them said they had experienced sexual harassment at work especially in the form of inappropriate physical contact and verbal abuse from male colleagues and passengers at some point in time.

The women revealed that most fail to report due to a lack of clear complaints mechanisms.

Flone went to Machakos to advocate for the creation of safe spaces for women and vulnerable groups in the transport sector through the development of a sexual harassment policy for the transport sector.

May Rakel Anuda, Flone's Communications Officer, said that during the presentation of the survey, they discussed with public transport stakeholders from Machakos County what the policy would entail.

"It will ensure that public transport areas of work also accommodate women, with clean washroom spaces, security personnel who can address harassment complaints and punishment measures put in place for sexual harassment offenders reported," she said.

The survey also recommended that the county set out to promote the active participation of women and minority groups while advocating for safe spaces free from sexual and gender-based violence.