Need to make public transport in Delhi women-friendly: Study
More women in Delhi travel on foot and on buses than men, a report on women and urban transport has shown -- underlining the need for making streets and modes of public transport safer.
The report suggests that women in the capital use public transport more, while men prefer scooter/motocycles and bicycles. Drafted by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) and Safetipin, a personal safety mobile application, the report also stated that in low-income neighbourhoods of Delhi, women walk more than men.
“In one of these areas we found that 52% women walk against a mere 27% men. Interestingly, 21% residents in that settlement tend to cycle. But, in that only 2% were found to be women and they were primarily pillion riders,” said Sonal Shah from ITDP.
She said while very few women use bicycles across India due to lack of access. “Across cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai we found that 37% women walk against 27% men. Similarly, 30% women used public transport against 25% men,” she added.
Gauging the travelling pattern of men and women in Delhi and other cities, experts on Tuesday demanded authorities to work together to create a ‘gender responsive’ urban transport in the city.
“While women constitute around half of India’s population, their labour force participation in urban areas is as low as 15.5%. Ultimately, transportation is the fulcrum that allows women to participate in the workforce. However, our urban transport policies remain gender blind largely,” said Shreya Gadepalli, Director-South Asia at ITDP.
Highlighting the sexual harassment women face while in transit, Kalpana Viswanath, director Safetipin, pointed out that almost every second woman in Delhi and other major cities had been harassed while using public transport.
A study done by Jagori and UN Women in the Capital showed that 51% women faced harassment inside public transport. “That’s not all, 42% women said they were harassed while waiting for public transport. While women safety is looked at as a special case, we need to solve this holistically. We need a policy in place,” she said at a seminar organised to discuss women’s concerns in public transport in India.
According to Jagan Shah, director at National Institute of Urban Affairs, there is a lack of data because of which improving what ails public transport is not holistic. “If there is no data on gender-wise travel patterns, how do the authorities correct what’s wrong?” he said.
Gadepalli said the costs of poor public transport are often borne by women. For example, women may turn down better employment opportunities far away from home in favour of lower-paid local opportunities when the public transport system is unreliable or unaffordable.