Women, society and safety

ProtectionIn ancient times the role of the woman was that of maintaining and seeing to the welfare of the family; this was made worse with the fact that she was subjected to the kitchen and bedroom as being the only places where she could display her expertise. It may, however, be a misnomer to associate this phenomenon as having occurred only within a certain continent as some may suggest. In other words women were excluded from taking up positions that exposed them to the world and made their thirst for ambition linger. So we found situations where women were not allowed to lead political movements and organsations, contest elections, occupy top level management positions in companies, be at the helm of affairs in religious organisations, champion economic empowerment programmes and so on. To some this sort of placement given to the female gender was deserved since their role was basically to “support” the male folks. By virtue of this men (especially those who were successful) had women behind them; these women were not with the men but behind the men. Events have occurred, the society has evolved and overtime the society itself has come to re-appraise and re-evaluate the role of the woman towards purposeful family upbringing, impactful community development, commendable nation building and pro-active diplomatic relations within regional, continental and global organisations.
In recent times the role of the woman has changed. It has moved from being a home-keeper alone to being a dominant figure to be reckoned with in global affairs bordering on politics, sports, entertainment, health and religion. The world has seen women having to champion successful global events that have had their place in the sands of time. It is, therefore, becoming clear that the man cannot achieve maximum success without the support of the woman which makes it imperative for him to have her with him and not behind him.
While we clearly understand how vital the role of the man is, we should not negate the place of the woman as well. For certain reasons she has been described as the weaker vessel and therefore associated with a seemingly perceived inability to do certain things, get involved in certain areas and achieve certain results. Time and events have proven us wrong again! Being faced with the harsh reality of their relevance and power, we must seek ways to continually protect them.
Within the last week this writer has attended two events bothering on the need for women to be empowered and safe. An event marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was the latter of these two events and forms the basis of this piece. The female gender has had to go through a lot of assault some of which are emotional, and others being physical. While the society may have very little control over emotional violence towards women, it has a huge role to play in controlling the continued rise of physical violence towards them. It is worrisome that the aspect of violence which the society can control is the one which is on the increase-the physical. While we commend efforts of national, regional and international organisations at empowering women and seeing them emerge successful in their areas of endeavour, it is important to stop and consider for a minute that these women by virtue of their businesses and desires to go about the pursuit of their careers will need to move around and one of the most convenient ways to go around would be by road transport, of course taxis. But then we are presented with a cold reality when we understand that the number of women who experience violence via this means of transport is alarming. In countries such as India for example, statistics show that about two-thirds of female taxi commuters experience assault. This figure cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand and should not be seen as being attributed to India alone. It is indeed a global issue! Understanding the fact that there is a problem and having identified the subject around which the issue revolves, what then is the solution?
It has become clear that by virtue of their physical, psychological and emotional make-up, the woman has been perceived weak and, therefore, becomes who may be considered as being endangered species. It is the collective responsibility of everyone to ensure that women are protected as they go about their significant role of nation-building. As earlier mentioned taxi use has become a dominant means of commuting especially among women in developing countries owing to the continued improvement being done to the transport system in these countries. In the face of this we share a collective responsibility to protect women from all forms of assault and violence. The efforts of Easy Taxi, a globally acclaimed taxi application system also resident in Nigeria is commendable in this regard as it has realised this imminent threat to the women folk, by first identifying the problem and then educating the drivers on the safety and security of women who are obviously their most dominant clients when gender is considered. Much as the company intends to garner the support of government organisations and other relevant stakeholders, the drivers come first on its agenda as it is in their custody that most of these violence happen.
As part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Easy Taxi has taken it upon itself to engage these drivers on ensuring the safety of women. While on the one hand an unsafe means of commuting presents to the world a belligerent society with little regard for feminine dignity, on the other hand it presents the company as being socially irresponsible, lacking internal co-ordination, constituting a lack of confidence from commuters and bringing about a continuous decline in income. All of these in turn rub off on the society and the country as a whole affecting it economically, socially and morally in its place amongst other nation-states.
To this end, Easy Taxi looks to the future with much optimism in delivering taxi commuting as the most preferred form of short distance transportation by engaging in these activities. Indeed, we all have a role to play in effectuating the desired ease and safety of our women and the society at large.
•Ohajunwa is a writer. Email:[email protected]

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