Egypt National Rail
Sexual harassment in public places is a major issue of concern in Egypt. Incidence of harassment has been reported to be one of the highest in streets and transport. According to a study released in 2013 by UNWOMEN, 81.8% of the female respondents interviewed in Cairo were frequently harassed in public transportation. Safety of women in public transport is especially important as the role of women in the workforce evolves. Provision of safer and more secure public transport will help women have more freedom of movement, which should provide them with safer access to services and better access to economic opportunities leading to their increased participation and retention in the labour force.
As part of the funding provided by the EBRD to invest in Egypt's national rail infrastructure, Vectos were engaged to assist the Egyptian National Railways to enhance its passenger service provision: meeting the needs of both women and men regarding the planning, design, delivery and management of its services.
By creating a more amenable mobility environment, the accessibility for both women and men to access jobs and services can be greatly improved to the benefit of the Egyptian economy and society at large. Commercially for ENR, an initiative that considers the needs and perspectives of both genders could significantly increase demand for services. The intervention was particularly relevant in the Egyptian context where the railway sector plays a significant role in the economy and is an essential mode of transport for many Egyptians with different income levels.
Yet because transport, including railway, is primarily male dominated, the needs of women are often neglected and hence their mobility can be seriously constrained. This translates into limited economic and learning opportunities for women, serious health, safety and security hazards, and overall disempowerment. Improving transport services and mobility for women, according to a UNECE report, could be considered as critical factors for achieving the MDGs by 2015.
Vectos' approach included conducting surveys of women and men rail users and focus groups of users and non-users to assess the current situation and the current attitudes, experiences and patterns of rail use among women and men. The Vectos team made recommendations to ENR for a more customer responsive train service that meets the aspirations, expectation and needs of women and men (e.g. safety and security, passenger rights to service quality and comfort standards etc.) and their needs for access to activities and job opportunities. Training activities with all levels of ENR staff ensured that the recommendations were integrated into the capacity building of the organisation.