08/08/2021

Janecek Voting Method & Women's Mobility

By Jyoti Sharma

"One is not born a woman, but rather becomes a woman" a famous quote by Simonede Beauvior states that gender is not biological; instead, it is socially constructed. Women in a patriarchal society have always struggled to get access to fundamental rights and resources. Historically women have struggled a lot and are still struggling to get equal access to rights and resources as to men. Mobility is no different; there are a set of complex issues that determine the everyday mobility of women. Women and men experience mobility differently.

Women while travelling by public transport are usually worried about their safety and generally are subjected to verbal abuse, aggressive behaviour, gazing, inappropriate touching, sexual assault on public transport. Women's travel patterns and their perception of safety while using public transport is strongly influenced by cultural and social norms. The patriarchal nature of societies acts as a barrier to women's freedom of movement (Kapoor, 2019). Many women in cities while travelling via public transport have reported cases of gender-based violence and sexual harassment. Women are more likely to use public transportation during non-peak hours and make shorter trips because of overcrowding and safety concerns. Poor infrastructure in cities, lack of street lights, public toilets, and proper roads all lead to risky and uncomfortable travel for women. These issues impact women's decisions of taking up jobs or educational opportunities, and in some cases, they are forced to take alternate routes or modes of transport. In the worst situation, they leave their education or job and stay at home. When women decline jobs because of lack of transport, this further reduces the number of women in the workforce and leads to gender inequality in the workforce.

Women combine many destinations within one trip. They make shorter and more trips, which often require them to change, divert and break their journey to pick up children, run errands, shop or take on other family obligations (Vanderschuren & Allen, 2016, 4). Their travel patterns are identified as mobility of care. In some cases, there is a double burden of economic activities and caregiving activities on women. For instance, going to the office might drop kids off at school, and coming back from a leisure trip might involve picking up groceries. Women are considered primary caregivers, and they use multiple modes of public transport, which adds up to the cost of the journey. Due to this, women's travel is characterised by "trip-chaining". Trips are generally shorter, more in number, and often require that they travel in the opposite direction of the final destination, diverting from the most direct route and/or breaking the whole journey into multiple legs (Bandagi, 2021).

On the other hand, men take more direct trips, usually from workplace to home and often travel during peak rush hours. In many developing countries, income-generating trips (productive) are considered more important than reproductive (caregiving) trips. As a result, men usually get access to motorised transport before women. Thus, most women in the developing world have limited access to transport, both private and public. (Kapoor, 2019).

Accessibility of modes of transport is not equal among men and women. In specific socio-cultural settings, men have more control over financial matters, and they can pay and afford public transport. They are considered the breadwinner of the family and own motor vehicles. On the other hand, women have domestic responsibilities and men travel outside the house more often, and men have greater mobility than women. Many women prefer walking, especially in rural areas, because other modes of transport are usually expensive or far from home.In urban areas, women usually depend on public transport. Primarily women walk or use auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, private buses and informal modes of transport to manage their travel needs.  

A survey was conducted by ORF and Youth ki Awaaz titled 'Women on the move impact of safety concerns on women mobility'. It states that 88% of respondents use public transport, 22% use auto-rickshaws, train 19%, bus 17% and on-demand taxi17% and non-app-based taxis use the least 2%. Rest of the 12% who do not use public transport, most travel by motorised two-wheelers 41%, four-wheelers 33%and cycles used by least 1%. Around 23% of women use public transport to reach public spaces and 22% to reach workspaces. 75% women use public transport everyday, 33% commuting between 30 minutes to one hour daily, followed by one-two hours 32%. 22% of women travel between 10-20 km every day, followed by 5-10 km18%, with the least number travelling less than 1 km 3%. 57% of women report that public transport in India is unsafe, with a similar number 56% reporting that they have been sexually harassed while using public transport. In instances of sexual harassment while using public transport, the least number of women, 2%, said they reported the incident to authorities. This signifies a massive trust deficit in the authority's capacity to handle such matters with sensitivity and efficiency. Most women chose to take action themselves 33% did not feel safe taking any action, 33% and 26% chose to ignore the situation. 72%of respondents reported that they do not know the emergency number for transport services. 30% of women said congestion (crowd) was the cause for feeling unsafe while using public transport. Most respondents, 18%, also feel interchanges (bus stops, train platforms, traffic lights) are the most unsafe of the mobility chain. 16% feel unsafe inside public transport vehicles.52% of women said they have turned down education and/or work opportunities due to the commute being unsafe. Most women who do not use public transport said they would use it if it were safer 33% (Ratho & Jain, 2021).Transport planning and infrastructure must be gender-sensitive and should include women's concerns, including safety, affordability and accessibility.Better planning will encourage more women to participate in the workforce, education and improve the overall growth of women. There are many national and state schemes aimed at making better and gender-sensitive transport.

                       Gender- sensitive public transport policies

Indian government at the central and state level have made many policies addressing the issue of safety and security of public transport. From April 1 2018, the central government mandated one or more panic buttons in public transport under the scheme for the security of women in public road transport. (Government ofIndia MINISTRY OF ROAD TRANSPORT & HIGHWAYS NEW DELHI, n.d,23). Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow and Mumbai under SafeCity Project for eight cities and Safe City Implementation Monitoring portal(SCIM) - a project funded under the umbrella of Nirbhaya Fund Scheme at the cost of INR 2,919 crore established to monitor and manage safety and security of women in cities (Press Information Bureau & Ministry of Home Affairs,Government of India, 2019). On January 31 2018, under the Swachh BharatMission, 192 toll plazas were created by the National Highways Authority ofIndia. These toll plazas have separate washrooms for both men and women. This ensures women travellers' safety, security, and hygiene (Press InformationBureau & Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India,2019). Many recommendations such as GPS in public transport, police verified drivers, CCTV cameras in all public transport infrastructure were given by TheNational Urban Transport Policy (Ministry of Urban Development Government of India,2014). For the safety and security of women passengers under the Nirbhaya FundScheme, financial assistance is provided to states and union territories for projects specifically designed to improve women's safety in public transport.Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation have already received funds (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, n.d,29).In 2015 Smart Cities Mission was launched, which aimed to create walkable localities, develop open spaces, and install CCTV cameras (MoHUA, 2015).

TheDelhi Metro Rail Corporation has one coach reserved for women passengers. They also have a helpline for the safety and security of women & children(Singh, 2020). In Delhi, all The Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses haveCCTV cameras and GPS devices. Women passengers in Delhi in a DTC bus can travel free of cost (Nayak, 2019). Sustainable infrastructure for the safety and security of citizens has been planned and implemented by The North DelhiMunicipal Corporation for the safety and security of women & children (NewDelhi Municipal Council, n.d.).Many CCTVs cameras have been installed in public places by The South Delhi Municipal Corporation for women's safety ("4,388CCTVs Installed in Delhi for Women Safety: Police Tells High Court,"2018). Tejaswini scheme was started by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply andTransport (BEST) in 2019 in Mumbai, in which grants were given to purchase buses specially for women passengers. Instead of the usual red bus, these buses were yellow (Mahale, 2019). The Kolkata government in 2019 launched the pink cab, which women drove, and it aimed to ensure the safety and security of female commuters. These taxis were metered, have a distinguished logo and are pink in colour ("Mamata Launches Pink Cabs for Women in City," 2019).The Atal Indore City Transport Services Limited (AICTSL), to ensure the safety and security of women passengers, launched auto-rickshaws with pink colour top to be driven by women, and these auto-rickshaws have fitted GPS trackers("Auto-Rickshaws With Female Drivers to Start Soon in City," 2015).It also launched pink buses for women passengers on February 3 2020, equipped with CCTV cameras, passenger information systems, passenger announcement systems, SOS buttons and a woman bus warden. The buses will be driven by a male driver dressed in a pink uniform ("'I AM FREE': Pink BRTS Buses Launched for Women in Indore," 2020). The Hyderabad government installed about 3000CCTV buses, isolated places under the SCIM (Mahesh, 2019). The Chennai government installed 3000 CCTV cameras across 1000 locations and 4500standalone cameras across 1500 locations. The tracking and tracing of buses were initiated through the allocations from the Nirbhaya Fund Scheme("Will the Nirbhaya Project Improve Women's Safety in Chennai?"n.d.).

                                     Hypothetical Experiment: Janecek Voting Method

The Indian government introduced numerous policies to make public transport safe for women, but these policies lack robust implementation—safety concerts and no proper transport infrastructure impact women's mobility. Women should be given the right to make decisions for themselves. They should decide on policies and solutions for their problems. A system that gives voice to women is a need of the hour.

Janecek Voting can be used to give voice to women in policymaking and decision making for themselves. It is a modern voting method that enables casting multiple votes and minus votes in some cases. The use of multiple votes gives a chance to have a broader scope of preferences (Institute H21, n.d.). A hypothetical experiment is discussed below better to understand the use of the Janecek Voting method. For instance, Delhi, the capital of India, is divided in two districts. The Transport Department, Government of NCT and The Department ofWomen and Child Development Government of NCT together make safe and secure public transport for women. By using Jacecek Voting methods, both the departments make women's decisions, and they get to choose the best policy they want the government to implement for their safe and secure everyday travel.Every district officer is responsible for conducting a successful voting exercise. The policies are published on websites of The Transport Department,Government of NCT and The Department of Women and Child Development, Government of NCT and women are encouraged to vote. The government proposed the following policy options:

1.  Compulsory formal registration of intermediate transport such as auto-rickshaws, e-rickshaws, local taxis so that they can be traced.

2.  Recruiting more women officers in public transport, female cab and bus drivers. Gender sensitisation training to bus drivers, conductors, cab drivers and people in similar professions.

3.  Approachable surveillance authority to ensure emergency actions and grievance redressal. Information related to routes, timing and fare being displayed on buses, boards on roads, inside the metro. Advertisement of emergency functional helpline numbers allover the buses, auto-rickshaws, e rickshaws, metro and cab.

4.  More gender-sensitive infrastructure makes more hygiene public toilets centrally located around travel junctures such as bus depots, car parking, bus stands, and inside stations.

5.  Installation of proper lights near footpaths, pathways, public toilets, bus stops and stations. Make streets walking-friendly by pedestrian infrastructure, shaded footpaths, the speed limit in residential areas, access to ramps.

6.  Availability of buses and metro more frequently so that it is less congested.

7.  Parking is reserved for women with CCTV cameras installed.

8.  Setting up a phone service that sends information about location, cab details and real-time tracking to the family members of women who take the taxi at night.

9.  Feeder service, especially for women running from one metro station to another metro station.

10.  A better designed public transport having proper space to stand, height to grab rails or handlers, the width of the doors according to the needs of female passengers.

Women were informed about the Janecek voting exercise by an awareness campaign.Voters were informed by newspaper, radio, television, social media advertisements. The votes have multiple votes in the Janecek voting method, and all votes have the same value. In this hypothetical experiment, maximum positive votes were given to option 2 and followed by 3,4,5 & 6 options.Hence, from this experiment, it can be seen that women change in public transport infrastructure by recruiting more female staff, safe and women-friendly infrastructure. This voting experiment gave answers to authority as to what exactly women want and gave a sense of empowerment to women where they could decide what is best for themselves. The Janecek voting method gave women a fair chance to participate in the decision-making process.                                      

                                           Conclusion

The mobility of women and their travel preferences depend on their concerns regarding safety and security while travelling. Women's mobility is directly related to their growth, career opportunities, social opportunities. Limited and unsafe access to public transport limits their mobility, limiting their participation in labour and other social institutions. Further, limited mobility impacts the education of women, and this increases the gender literacy gap.

Women do not get a chance to make decisions for themselves. Innovative methods like Janecek Voting methods allow women to participate in policymaking and decision making for themselves. There is a need for improvement in public transport infrastructure, improved CCTV surveillance is required, real-time tracking, recruitment of female staff in public transport, more women-friendly public transport, friendly streets and a strong grievance cell is the need of the hour. Women gave all these policy recommendations by using the Janecek voting method. Janecek's voting method gave a clear perspective to policymakers and a sense of empowerment to women. Mobility connects women to independence which further leads to women growth and empowerment. Therefore a gender-sensitive public transport is needed, which fulfils all the requirements of female passengers.

 

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