Public transport poses an added hurdle for working women in Jordan

An undated photo of a public transport bus in Amman, (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The education rate among women in Jordan is increasing. Nevertheless, their participation in the labor market remains merely at 14.9 percent, and mobility is one obstacle to women's finding work.   اضافة اعلان

A study conducted by Sadaqa, a civil society organization, showed that 80.5 percent of the women surveyed believe that public transportation is integral for women's economic participation. Yet, 47 percent of respondents stated they had turned down job opportunities due to the current state of public transportation services.

'Lost' opportunity Walaa, a woman from Irbid Governorate, has to leave the house every day at 5:30am to commute to her job in Amman. She pays out of pocket for a ride back using private transportation because buses stop running at 5pm, AmmanNet reported. 

"The topic of work has become frustrating," she said. "Many in my family have asked me to stop working."
"I lost a lot of opportunities due to the public transport situation."
Walaa's predicament is threefold: she cannot afford a car, social norms prevent her from moving to Amman, and she sometimes fears using private transportation services like taxis.

Joumana Al-Masaeed, a young woman from the Umm Jamal area in Mafraq Governorate, said: "I lost a lot of opportunities due to the public transport situation."

Buses in her area stop running as soon as the number of passengers drops below a certain level, leaving Masaeed with the possibility of being stranded with no way to go home. 

'Fear for personal safety'Women's use of public transit is concentrated in the morning, with 51.8 percent of women using it during early peak hours. Their use of public transport falls to 23.3 percent in the evening, according to the Sadaqa study.

Jamil Mujahid, former director of the Transportation Authority, said: "Safety and security are a basic requirement for women, and the transportation system does not meet the needs of working women." 

He also confirmed that the poor transportation state influences women's low participation in the workforce, especially in remote rural areas.

Only 1.8 percent of women reported using public transit at night.

The study cited "fear for personal safety and security" and noted that many riders "adopt inefficient travel patterns" to avoid harassment. 

Many women "prefer using buses to 'service' cars because it gives them the option to sit beside other women," it added. 

Long-term fixAlthough surveys worldwide show that women support the idea of gender-segregated public transit, such separation "cannot be seen as a long-term fix", the study reported. 

Instead, the organization recommended safety measures such as "better lighting, continuous surveillance, and easier access to the police/security apparatus," as well as hiring more women as public transit operators.

"The Land Transportation Regulatory Authority (LTRA) is concerned with providing safe transportation to all parts of the Kingdom and has already begun reviewing the transit lines in Irbid and Zarqa," spokeswoman Abla Al-Wishah told a local media outlet.

Urban expansion and the rural nature of some regions, she said, are some detrimental factors to improvement.

The LTRA has put forward an investment invitation for those interested in operating bus lines and is reducing the maximum capacity of buses from 24 passengers to 14 passengers.
Many women "prefer using buses to 'service' cars because it gives them the option to sit beside other women.”
As for transit schedules, Wishah said that economic conditions "play a role". There is no problem arranging with bus owners to be present during the peak hours from early morning to 9pm, she said.

Many bus lines in Jordan are run by private operators without a fixed schedule. 

Jordan has taken steps to start consolidating public transit lines. The Passenger Transport Regulation Law of 2017 requires individual owners to merge into a single company or submit to a single line management company for their region.

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