Session: Passion, Humanity and Collaboration
The issue of Violence Against Women has been a BURNING ISSUE for so many years that the lack of protection of women and the silence from law makers is a confirmation of the Patriarchal system that is still rampant in South Africa. Women's safety on public transport has always been a contentious situation and government is not doing anything about it. It became the elephant in the room, something that everyone knows about, few talks about and fewer still do something about. South Africa with its most Advanced Constitution is revered to in every single Gender Based Violence conversation - and yet... our modern transport systems have done NOTHING to protect women from violence, instead profitmaking off the most vulnerable sector of society tops the conversations of taxi bosses. Transport service providers like Uber and Bolt have unfortunately failed miserably to do anything more than providing women a way out from having to take unreliable and unsafe public transport.
Safe and Affordable transportation for women and girls has always been a huge concern for me. As a Gender Activist and fighter for women's human rights I have over the years heard of the most horrible experiences of women being raped in taxis. In fact, I experienced being raped myself while using public transport. In many cases over the years, I literally supported victims to get justice through the court systems and I get regular calls of women looking for help after the fact. The biggest challenge is that every female who get on a taxi knows that she is putting herself at risk, but she does so nevertheless because she does not have a choice. The terrible economic situation means that those who have jobs have no choice really but to get on unsafe modes of public transportation in order to keep their jobs.
Ladies Own Ride Sharing for Women is about the right of women to decide for themselves what she needs to do to travel safely from point A to Point B. We are presenting a niche market in that there are plenty of taxis and other modes of public transport. Our service caters for those that specifically select the safe, lady driver option at a cost. We are offering an exclusive service due to, amongst others, the fact that we have identified the fact that too many women are terrified to realize something that should be openly available - a safe ride without constantly having to sit ready to jump out a moving vehicle that veers off the route she knows it should travel on and it is not. It is about safety and it is about peace of mind and enjoyment of the experience.
To test the need for a service such as ours, the prove lies in the hundreds of incredible positive feedback and responses from all over the country and abroad, from all women across race, color, class, income lines and from the media too. The responses make it a MUST that these services become available immediately and expanded far and wide. What is heartwarming is the many positive responses from men too. They all have one thing in common when they say to me – thank you Joanie, this service is long overdue.
These results suggest that meaningful partnerships must be created across the transport sector to ensure that we truly make an impact in keeping women safe.
Potential donors are more likely to be women in responding to campaigns that ensure women’s safe transportation.
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Bio: Joanie Fredericks
Ms. Joanie Fredericks is a modern African Phoenix, having survived physical, sexual and psychological violence throughout childhood and motherhood.
To realize her mission to emancipate and empower women in underprivileged communities, Joanie founded Ladies Own Transport Services. In the spirit of Susan B Antony—who said “"I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world”—Ladies Own provides affordable access to tools, knowledge, and know-how for township women to become safe, courteous and professional drivers and escape poverty by gaining access to employment in the transport and deliveries industries. The business has implemented a communal means (stokvels) of financing full licensing programmes. She recently expanded the business to include a Ridesharing for Women Service, aimed exclusively at providing safe transport. With over 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Joanie also co-founded the NEAD Community Development non-profit organization that is committed to providing a platform for the inspiration and empowerment of a sustainable and progressive social development environment aligned with U.N. global sustainable development goals by addressing Gender Equality, Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Joanie has technical skills and operational qualifications obtained from accredited training institutions. Joanie also has a long list of certifications spanning Constitutional Law, Human Rights, Community Capacity Enhancement, and HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Service (SAFAIDS). She has volunteered extensively for organizations such as the Bush Radio Community Station, Family and Focus Project, and the Western Cape Network for Violence against Women and Rape Crisis in Israel and was Chairperson of the Cape Town region of the Western Cape’s Network for Violence against Women. In 2003, Joanie received the Amazon Award from the Women’s Legal Centre for her work with women farm workers.