Our impact, their voices

Taking the harassment out of ridesharing in Nepal

Ridesharing motorbike taxi services provide employment to thousands in Nepal, especially young people. A new partnership pilot between ILO and Fight Back Pvt. Ltd is helping raise awareness on occupational health and safety as well as sexual harassment during or after the ride.

Feature | Katmandu, Nepal | 01 April 2021
KATHMANDU, Nepal (ILO-news) - Rama Ghising, a 39 year old single mother, started working as a ridesharing motorbike driver since January 2021. For someone who raised two children selling tea in the past, Rama sees ridesharing as a better way to generate income. However, the work comes with challenges of its own.

Rama Ghising driving a customer in Kathmandu

I was harassed by a male client within just a few weeks of working as a motorbike driver"

Rama Ghising, a ridesharing motorbike driver
I was harassed by a male client within just a few weeks of working as a motorbike driver. At first I didn’t realize what he was doing but as soon as I understood his intention, I told him to stop and reported him to a nearby police station,” she recounts.

Nepal has high prevalence of Gender-based Violence (GBV) and has also faced a steep rise in casualties through road accidents since the early 2000s with 3 per cent of all deaths in Nepal due to traffic accidents.

With an estimated 50,000 [1] drivers registered with ridesharing companies in Nepal and increasing numbers of passengers using ridesharing services to quickly navigate clogged streets it has become crucial to address safety and harassment in the industry.

In response, ILO Nepal launched a pilot programme in September 2020 to improve governance and safety in the ridesharing industry, improve their occupational safety and health conditions, bring positive changes to values and behaviour as well as improve response and reporting mechanisms.

As part of these efforts, over 40 training sessions have taken place at Tootle – a ridesharing platform operated via mobile app – as part of the partnership with local company Fight back. Rama Ghising is one of the training recipients.

“What is really good about this training is that it can be applied to so many other situations, not just for this work. The training provided clear information on various health and safety risks while we provide rides to clients. It also helped us understand that not just women but men are also targets of harassment and violence,” said Ms Ghising.

The trainees can belong to any ridesharing services while the interactive sessions are based on real life cases and experiences. Areas covered include risk of accident, robbery, sexual violence and harassment, physical assault as well as physical and mental health.

"The pilot’s objective is to empower riders and drivers so they can protect themselves from violence and harassment. This is a first of its kind initiative in Nepal working with platform-based ridesharing companies," says Bina Kunwar Thapa, Senior Programme Officer at ILO Country Office for Nepal.
 
To date, the programme has trained over 1,200 riders and drivers on safety and sexual harassment.

A media awareness campaign has helped to change values, norms and behaviours of drivers through short videos and social media messages. The videos provide messages on what constitutes sexual harassment, and information on what to do if you face such situations.

The programme has also developed a health and safety training manual for the ridesharing business, established a quick response team for sexual harassment, and a mechanism for reporting sexual harassment, violence or any other security related cases.

Vikrant Pandey,Founding Director, Fight Back, giving OSH orientation to ridesharing drivers. ©Fight Back
It all started when I saw media reports of violence through ridesharing services. Tootle takes safety of both its staff and customers seriously, and they have it written in their values, so we did an overall risk assessment on safety and harassment in the industry and found out the gaps which we could work on,” said Vikrant Pandey, Founding Director of FightBack, a private company that conducts training on health and safety of individuals and communities.

Our socio-cultural conditioning is such that people could be unaware of what constitutes sexual harassment. What the programme is doing here is sensitizing and training riders and drivers so that they are fully aware of all the safety protocols while they carry out their duties"

Sixit Bhatta,CEO, Tootle
Our socio-cultural conditioning is such that people could be unaware of what constitutes sexual harassment. What the programme is doing here is sensitizing and training riders and drivers so that they are fully aware of all the safety protocols while they carry out their duties,” said Sixit Bhatta, CEO of Tootle. “As a company, we don’t value profitability over the safety of our staff and passengers.”







For further information please contact:

Mr Richard Howard
Director
ILO Country Office for Nepal
Tel.: +977 1 5555 777
Email: howardr@ilo.org


[1] According to an assessment carried out by Fight back Pvt. Ltd