Uber to extend gender sensitisation drill to 100,000 driver partners

The customised driver-sensitisation sessions are focused on safety, with specific attention given to behaviour on the platform and women’s safety. | Photo: Reuters
Uber said Monday it was extending its partnership with Delhi-based NGO Manas Foundation to gender sensitise 100,000 drivers by this year end.

The ride hailing firm has had a partnership with Manas Foundation since 2018. Until the coronavirus pandemic-related lockdowns came into effect last year, Uber managed to train 63,000 of its driver partners. Uber India and the Manas Foundation will now be delivering them virtually over Zoom in 34 cities. 

"The earlier, in person programme was done in seven cities, across seven different states. So we are now extending this program to 34 cities across 14 states. It will be offered in local languages. And we are hoping that by December of this year, we would have covered a total of one lakh (100,000) driver partners...And we remain continue continue to remain committed to it, we will continue expanding this beyond," said Pavan Vaish, Head of Driver, Supply & City Operations (Mobility) for IndiaSA.

Delhi-based Manas has been working in mental health and gender equality and justice for 15 years. It has developed a behaviour-change module to engage men in making public transport safe for women. They apply the principles of psychology to combat violence against women through interventions with drivers of public transport vehicles.

The customised driver-sensitisation sessions are focused on safety, with specific attention given to behaviour on the platform and women’s safety.

The in-person sessions were attended by 40-50 driver partners on average. Post the lockdown, Uber piloted virtual sessions with a little over 400 drivers across Delhi and Hyderabad in December

Concerns ranged from whether the driver partners would be able to connect on Zoom, or if the same level of engagement as in person sessions could be reached.

"And surprisingly, what we found is that drivers were quite savvy, they were able to download the app, they were able to log in. And they were very participative. In some instances, their wife or daughter would become a part of the session, sharing a woman's experience about facing life in the real world, and all the challenges they face. And when someone who's the extended family member is talking all the other drivers also relate to it much better," said Vaish.

One way Uber measures engagement through this programme is check the driver partner's rating by women riders. If the difference between the driver's average rating and the rating that women gave narrows, "something about this programme has influenced the driver to handle women in a different way," Vaish added.

Another way is the feedback received through social media channels. Uber provides stickers to the drivers who complete the sensitisation programme, which they can put on the back of their car, and they also get a certificate, which they can hang behind the driver's seat.

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