Women constitute almost 50% of the total population in India. They are the key agents to achieve economic, environmental or social growth of the country. Despite this, women are discriminated and considered weak as compared to their male counterparts, especially in the rural and semi-urban areas. Even if she desires to break the glass ceiling and improve her social status, limited access to credit, education and healthcare surface as a hindrance. Although the need for women empowerment by providing equal rights to participate in society, education, skill development and employment can’t be denied any longer.
Even in the current era Public Transport is a male-dominated sector that contains gender gaps throughout all levels of the workforce. Gender gap can be defined as the unequal outcomes experienced between women and men in the workforce, and women’s restricted access to rights and assets. More broadly, male dominated sectors consist of industries and occupations where women comprise less than 25% of job incumbent’s .They reflect a more traditional workplace, one created, maintained and controlled by males since inception. Progress in closing most gender gaps is slow. The gender gaps with respect to key labour market indicators have not narrowed substantially for the past 20 years. Differences remain in employment rate, part-time work, unpaid care and family responsibilities, professions and decision-making positions, working conditions, wages, and the possibilities for economic independence between women and men.
GOAL NO.5 (Gender Equality): Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Target 5.5: Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life.
Indicators 5.5.1: Proportion of seats held by women in (a) national parliaments and (b) local governments.
Indicators 5.5.2: Proportion of women in managerial positions
In the European Union, only 22% of the labour forces in transport services are women, compared to 46% in the general economy. In Air Transport the share of women is 40%, almost double the average for all transport services. This large female presence in the air sector is due to flight attendants and various ground services dominated by women, such as check-in and customer services. But at the same time, some employee groups, such as pilots, are heavily dominated by men. The situation in other transport sectors is much worse: indeed, the percentage of women is 20% in water transport and only 14% in land transport. The situation doesn’t improve in the urban public transport sector, with an average 17.5% of female employees.
The share of women’s participation in the transport sector also differs by mode. For example, the employment rates in the railway industry in the United Kingdom are 16% female and 84% male, even though 47% of its national workforce is female (Women in Rail, 2015). In the European Union’s urban public transport sector, women account for approximately 18% of total employees on average, ranging between 5% to 31%, but represent less than 10% of drivers (WISE, 2012).
According to the policy, the rural and urban female labour force participation rate (FLFPR) in Tamil Nadu is 35.1% and 23.6%, which is higher than the national average by 15.4% and 7.5%, respectively. Female participation in various Central government jobs is as low as 10.93 per cent out of a total 30.87 lakh employees.
Regarding women’s recruitment and employment, various factors have been identified as barriers. The most important emerge from a survey carried out in railway companies and trade unions. It seems that the physical effort required in some jobs induces companies to be sceptical about employing women and discourages them from applying for a job position. On the one hand, gender-related stereotypes and prejudices are still largely common in European railway companies and the typical male work culture prevails. On the other, working in a railway company does not appear attractive to many women because of shift work and spatial mobility (e. g. for locomotive drivers, conductors/on-board personnel), which represent barriers for women with caring responsibilities. Finally, health and safety at work and hygiene issues (e. g. the lack of appropriate infrastructure for women, such as separate toilets or toilets at all, for instance, on board freight trains) represent other major barriers to female employment, even if they seem relatively easy to overcome.
The barriers which could account for the low number of women employed in the sector:
The main causes of the under-representation of women in the transport workforce are the harsh working conditions, a stereotype masculine image of the transport sector, security problems (particularly in the night -time urban transport sector), recruitment and reconciling work and private life. “The gender related stereotypes still occur in various modes and in general there is a typical male work culture.
There are records of quite a number of experiences of women seafarers and their difficulties in pursuing a career at sea. Several women denounced being victims of sexism from staff at their training institutions and many women also reported problems with some male colleagues of sexual harassment.”
Gender diversity in the workplace does not only benefit women. Mounting evidence shows that it is a benefit to societies, economies, the environment and enterprises themselves. Greater gender equality or diversity in the transport workforce will not only address the discrimination women face in the workforce as a matter of human rights and fundamental principles and rights at work, it will also create more economic efficiency leading to poverty reduction. Poverty rates are higher for women than for men on a global level, in both urban and rural areas (World Bank, 2018). Existing gender inequalities also make women and girls more vulnerable than men and boys to poverty (World Bank, 2011). Increasing women’s participation in the workforce could thus play an important role in poverty reduction.
Despite the benefits of gender equality in the transport workforce, women who decide to pursue a career in the transport sector encounter severe challenges. Studies have shown that such challenges can be broadly categorised into seven groups,
Attracting women to the sector can help companies to recruit new staff, improve work-life balance, and ensure better working conditions for both genders. Women bring additional skill sets to the industry, from communicative skills to their ability to diffuse potentially volatile situation; thus we see the emergence of a new and better quality of public transport. Many International Organisations related to Transport like UITP, ITF agreed that strengthening the women employment in transport sector is to benefit of the whole sector, the companies and their employees.
Even though, there is a lack of gender diversity in technical and operational divisions, and in management positions. The representation of women is high in administration and customer service. The public transport sector does not
currently provide women with adequate training opportunities and representation in unions. They are subject to poor working environments, safety and health concerns, lack of facilities, including decent sanitation facilities, as well as violence and harassment from colleagues and passengers.
To attract and retain women to the sector a bundle of activities in different areas are necessary, which are mentioned here with some concrete examples:-
Recruitment policy: Address and welcome specifically women directly into the company. Negotiation of a recruitment procedure between the trade unions and workers’ representatives.
Qualification and training: Recruit young women for professional education, assure equal access for women to vocational training and avoid a “glass ceiling effect”.
Work-life balance: Introduce working time models that allow a better reconciliation of work and social/family life which include instruments allowing for the integrating of individual‘s wishes and needs.
Health and safety at work: Adapt occupational health & safety, workplace ergonomics, workplace security, and provide appropriate facilities like toilets, canteens, lockers, break rooms and changing rooms.
Equality in wages: Analyse the “gender pay gap” and develop policies to eliminate it.
Working culture and gender stereotypes: Change the corporate cultures from a male working culture to a diversity culture, sensitise the management on gender stereotypes and unconscious bias and include management, trade unions and workers representatives in the activities.
STU’s policies: Set clear & measurable targets and develop instruments to implement them with a top-down approach.
Decent Work in Transport for women: Transport jobs can be well paid, rewarding and offer long term career opportunities. Unfortunately, and unacceptably, few women are employed in these jobs and some positions fall below the standard of decent work. One of the barriers to a career in transport is workplace violence.
Why action is needed for the violence against women?
What constitutes violence at work?
Violence can be defined as a form of negative behaviour or action in the relations between two or more people. It is characterised by aggressiveness which is sometimes repeated and sometimes unexpected. It includes incidents where employees are abused, threatened, assaulted or subject to other offensive acts or behaviours in circumstances related to their work. Violence manifests itself both in the form of physical and psychological violence. It ranges from physical attacks to verbal insults, bullying, mobbing, and harassment, including sexual and racial harassment.
External violence – workplace violence committed by external intruders who have no legitimate relationship with the workplace and who have undertaken criminal acts such as vandalism, robbery, sabotage or terrorism;
Service-related violence – aggressive acts by customers or clients of a service or a business;
Internal violence – aggressive acts by current or former employees or other persons with an employment-based relationship with an organisation (this includes workplace bullying and harassment); and,
Organisational violence – involves organisations placing their workers in dangerous or violent situations or allowing a climate of bullying or harassment to thrive in the workplace.
As a consequence of jobs being defined as ‘men’s work’ and women being underrepresented in the very institutions that might initiate some change, poor working conditions prevail and women are continually disadvantage by out of date structures, workplace arrangements and attitudes. Examples of ‘traditionally male’ transport jobs are listed in Table 1, alongside various roles that have been ‘feminised’ and/or ‘opened’ to women.
|'Feminised’ or ‘opened’ to women
|Tram (and Bus) Drivers
Technically speaking, harassment, bullying and violence are also ‘gender-intensified’ barriers to working in the transport sector – men are bullied, harassed and subject to violence at work as well as women – but in practical terms it needs to be addressed as a ‘gender-specific’ problem. Transport records one of the highest levels of violence towards employees and this issue proved to be the main concern raised by women during the research for this ILO study. While the devastating effects of violence towards women are evidenced across all transport sectors and countries throughout the world, the root causes and perpetrators (e.g. co-workers, customers, supervisors, and managers) will differ and therefore demand sector-specific and country-specific policies to address this problem.
Training to address workplace violence in the transport sector could include:
Women in rural areas are now able to create independent sources of income. While there were many young semi-literate women who have home-grown skills, the absence
of capital and regressive social norms prevents them from taking a full plunge in any decision-making role and setting up their own independent business. The self-help group movement has been one of the most powerful incubators of female resilience and entrepreneurship in rural India. It is a powerful channel for altering the social construct of gender in villages. Women in rural areas are now able to create independent sources of income. If we are engaging the women as part time while in Peak hours in Ticket counters, Ticket Validators in Express/Mofussil Bus Services than appointing the conductors as full time, the establishment cost will be considerably reduced.
It is possible to identify a number of specific opportunities for action to promote women participation in transport as detailed below:
With the achievement of women participation in transport, it is clear that the provision of public transport policies and services which meet the needs of women will not only satisfy the needs and aspirations of the majority of public transport users - i.e. women, they will also tend to make its use more attractive to men and children as well. What has all too obviously not worked is the converse: it has been seen repeatedly that building public transport systems around the needs of men has not tended to produce a system which adequately meets the needs of women.