More than 80 percent of women in Nairobi have witnessed harassment in the form of verbal or other forms of emotional abuse, only a paltry 7 percent reported the incidents. Furthermore, very little or no action is taken against the perpetrators.
This is according to a study by UN Women, Kenyatta University (KU) and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) on Women and Public Transport in Nairobi.
“Africa is the world’s fastest urbanizing continent. However, the expansion of adequate transport infrastructure has not kept up with the growth of its cities. This has significant implications for gender inequality”, said Principal Secretary in the State Department for Transport Dr Eng Joseph Njoroge.
The study was conducted under the auspices of Women Count – UN Women’s global flagship programme on gender data and statistics, and in partnership with KU Women’s Economic Empowerment (KU-WEE) Hub and SEI.
Gender mainstreaming in urban transport infrastructure and services planning as well as provisioning is very important as women and men’s transport needs and use patterns differ.
The Women and Public Transport in Nairobi study, the first of its kind for Kenya, identifies the public transport needs of women and the obstacles they face in accessing and using public transport. It aims to promote gender-responsive policymaking and influence decision-making towards gender equity in this essential service.
“Only 1 percent of the actions taken after incidents of harassment led to the perpetrators being apprehended”, said Ms Rukaya Mohammed UN Women Deputy Country Representative Kenya.
“Harassment, including sexual and emotional abuse while using public transport, may hinder women from accessing and fully exploiting economic opportunities and from providing or enjoying social services.”
The findings highlight the need for measures to protect women commuters from continued victimization or harassment by matatu conductors/stage marshals and fellow male passengers.
“Women commuters should be supported to report these incidents and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in public transport provided with legal and psychosocial support”, said Prof Judith Waudo, KU-WEE Hub Leader.
The Women and Public Transport in Nairobi Report is the culmination of efforts of UN Women, KU and SEI in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, the National Transport and Road Safety Authority (NTSA), and the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (NaMATA).