“We all have the same feeling when we get into the car. The feeling of which Oumou Keita, manager of Women Drive 4 U, it is that of insecurity. The feeling that many women feel when ordering their VTC driver (Transport car with driver) late at night – or not –, after having already had a bad experience, or simply by reading the latest news items. Indeed, whether it is harassment, attempted kidnapping or sexual and gender-based violence, testimonies have been raining on social networks for a few years. In a Harris Interactive study for Uber published in May 2019, for example, 83% of women in Ile-de-France say they have already been victims of a situation ranging from “heavy and insistent flirting to physical or sexual assault”.
“It is a relationship of trust that is established”
A more than worrying phenomenon that has led to the creation of a niche: 100% female transport applications. “I developed my VTC site in September 2022, because working at Orly airport and taking the taxi every day, I was tired of not feeling serene on a daily basis”, explains Oumou Keita.
Creating a secure space, where the client can travel with both ears, is also what motivated Smahane Bouchlaghem, 33, to found Woman driving app. Both services offer to put female taxi drivers in touch with customers, but also with their children, accompanied or alone. “There are mothers who entrust their teenager to go to the evening or their youngest to drive him to the station… It’s a relationship of trust that is established”, unfolds Smahane Bouchlaghem, who adds to participate in the support for families who are victims of domestic violence with the Protect woman at the wheel version.
And this niche is not only to please users. “It goes both ways,” insists the manager of Women Drive 4 U. “Because for a taxi driver, it’s not reassuring to work at night. In addition, if they multiply the nights, they are clearly more exposed to risks. I work with 30 female drivers, and that’s what they come for. This insecurity, even on the driving side, contributes to the fact that very few women want to become drivers. Only 5% of the approximately 20,000 taxis in Ile-de-France are indeed women, according to an INSEE study published in 2021.
Towards more parity?
A lower percentage which then hinders the development of certain applications – like Kolett who ended up giving up due to the lack of female professionals with whom to collaborate. However, Woman at the wheel may have found the solution for more parity in the profession: an academy to train female drivers, working within the application – deployed in Ile-de-France, Lyon, Lille and Nice – or elsewhere.
If some will cry out for the discriminatory solution for the rest of the population, this does not prevent these services from giving rise to an indispensable feminine solidarity and to unique exchanges.
Among the apprehensions of users of classic applications? “Ending with a driver who does not match the chosen profile. Which is not at all reassuring,” notes Magali, 27, a user of VTC Femmes Paris. She paid the price last year for one of the failures of a VTC giant, meaning that “anyone can shop using the login credentials of a verified profile”. Daughter of the night, Magali no longer swears by exclusively female taxis.
Unfortunately, carpooling has not slipped through the cracks. “A friend had a carpool problem, she had to deal with inappropriate comments and even a little more. With other friends, we could no longer feel permanently insecure,” reports Camille Cottard, student behind the very young Rouen application Drive Lady, in the columns of Release. An application, similar to Ladies Drivers in Nice, which is based on the Blablacar model, except that the choice of the gender of the person with whom you share the journey is not reserved for the driver.
Source: Le Progrès : info et actu nationale et régionale – Rhône, Loire, Ain, Haute-Loire et Jura | Le Progrès by www.leprogres.fr.
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