Women rely on public transport more than men, many studies
show. As a result, women worry more about physical aggression and sexual harassment as they ride buses and trains.
, for one, live in constant dread of being stared at, catcalled, or groped during their daily commutes. Poor public transport severely limits their access to work, education, and life choices.
To provide public transport that is safer for women to use, the first women-only bus service
in the city of Karachi was launched on Feb. 1
. Six pink air-conditioned buses run along one of the city’s busiest routes. Cameras
are installed inside the buses, which also have women conductors. Female drivers
will be trained to drive the buses.
Dr. Hadia Majid, an associate professor at Lahore University, is optimistic that the buses will encourage more women, who make up half of the country’s population, to work outside the home. The lack
of access to safe transport is one reason behind the South Asian country’s dismal female labor force participation rate of 20.6
percent in 2021.
But will the pink buses solve the women’s mobility woes? Sana Rizwan, urban planner and researcher at Habib University, thinks the women-only buses are just part of the solution.
“When it comes to transport, it’s not the segregated buses that matter, but the whole journey,” she told Asia News Network
. As women move around the city, ample policing, street lighting, and safe bus stops are also vital to keeping them safe, too.
On a global level, making public transport more accessible to women and other vulnerable groups is among the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG Target 11.2
states: “By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons.”