How to Integrate Violence Against Women Prevention, Response in Urban Transport

Women riding a public bus in Lahore, Pakistan.
Women riding a public bus in Lahore, Pakistan.

By Laurence Levaque

A quick reference guide for for mainstreaming prevention of and response to violence against women and girls in urban transport interventions.

As part of ADB’s support for the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Global Campaign, here is a quick reference for urban transport specialists to address violence against women and girls (VAWG) in their efforts to ensure safe transport.

It is often assumed that transport projects will benefit both women and men equally. However, if women do not feel safe when taking public transport, the majority of users will be men.

Transport projects typically do not include VAWG prevention and response, as the objective is usually just to improve the service. But such projects can actually address women’s safety issues through certain investments that will at the same time improve the operational efficiency and sustainability of the transport system.

Below are possible entry points for mainstreaming VAWG prevention and response in urban transport interventions.

Safe physical environment and design features

  • Ensure safe physical access to urban transport services through adequate lighting; clear visibility; emergency services provided in bus stops, on platforms and in and around bus and rail stations; and on sidewalks and pathways to and from stops/stations.
  • Install cameras and alarm systems such as emergency buttons.
  • Invest in security personnel on surveillance platforms or on patrol.
  • Consider the need for women-only buses/sections or carriages on railway or MRT services, especially in densely populated cities.
  • Build separate sanitation facilities for female and male passengers at bus, railway and MRT stations.
  • Adopt measures to ensure proper maintenance of the transport system, as this has an influence on users’ perception of security and degree of acceptance of crime or misconduct.

Prevention and support services

  • Design transport services that are women-friendly by selecting routes that cater to the places women travel to, and allowing women traveling after dark or early morning to get off the bus between stops at places closer to their destinations.
  • Establish a security hotline which transport users can call or text to report incidents of VAWG.
  • Install clear signs in buses/trains and stations with information about zero tolerance to sexual harassment, the security hotline, and local support services available in the area.

Capacity building

  • Train security personnel ,drivers and conductors on women’s security and safety issues and gender-sensitive emergency assistance for VAWG on public transport.
  • Organize regular briefing sessions for female and male station staff on security-related issues, including VAWG.
  • Institutionalize data collection and analysis on VAWG with sex-disaggregated data and gender-related information in the transport sector. 

This is the second of a series of 4 blogs about ADB’s support to the global campaign to mobilize people to take a stand on VAWG between 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and Human Rights Day on 10 December.