By Ebunoluwa Sessou
As part of efforts to advance the cause of women in the transportation sector, Grassroot People and Gender Development Center, GRADE with support from Actionaid Nigeria, AAN, is implementing the Women’s Voice and Leadership- Nigeria Project, WVL-Nigeria project in Lagos, with funding from Global Affairs Canada, GAC under the Strategic Opportunity Fund, SOF to advocate for safe space of work.
This is coming even as the economy is biting hard in Nigeria and women are finding it very difficult to support their families financially in the home.
GRADE through the Women’s Voice and Leadership-Nigeria Project is rising up to advocate for women who have decided to stand up to the challenge of helping their families hence taking up what is regarded as men’s job just to fend for their homes.
At a one day media engagement organised by GRADE for 25 journalists, the Executive Director, Mrs. Vivian Emesowum called on the media to increase their voice to promote gender- sensitive issues by calling the attention of the government to ensure that the road is safe for both men and women drivers.
She encouraged the media to also educate the populace on gender terms as it affects both male and female which makes it everyone’s business.
According to her, the transport sector in Lagos is experiencing a huge overhaul with the influx of Keke (tricycle) and the mini bus, Korope as the most common means of movement since the ban on motorcycles on major roads. The business which was dominated by men now has an influx of women as an employment option and source of income.
“The increasing influx of female drivers into public transport business on Lagos roads is attributed to the high rate of unemployment, poverty and hunger in the land. They maintain and double their roles as wives, mothers and daughters despite the daily task.
“WVL Nigeria Project aims to tackle the barriers to gender equality and supporting the empowerment of women and girls through provision of technical and financial resources to local women’s rights organisations and their networks.
“Through the Women’s Voices and Leadership Nigeria project’s Strategic Opportunity Fund, GRADE is implementing Strategic Media Engagement to Promote Safe Space and Decent Work for Female Public Transport Drivers in Lagos State.On his part, Mr. Ladipo Toyin from the FRSC Ikotun Command in a one day skills and capacity-building workshop on road safety laws, offences and fine, was held for 20 female public transport drivers in Alimosho and Ojo, Lagos State, educated the women on the importance of the driver’s licence which is used nationally while the rider’s card is used only in Lagos.
He pointed out the need for them to obey speed limits and avoid driving in the fast lane.Also, a Director from the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, Mr. Aladesida Olarewaju congratulated the female Marwa drivers for taking up a male-dominated job. He encouraged them to serve as agents of change in their various locations by educating others on road rules and regulations to avoid offences and fines. He enumerated major offences that can attract fines.
According to him, Marwa is not supposed to be a means of transportation in the mega city; it is not part of the smart city agenda of Lagos State but is acceptable due to the present economic situation of the country. He added that they are expected to avoid overloading, obey traffic lights, avoid dangerous driving, think of safety first and consider other road users.
However, Emesowum advised the women on self care and awareness. She encouraged them to be conscious of their health status and create quality time for the family.